Coquitlam is winding down a handful of dormant sister and friendship city partnerships but will continue to focus on agreements made with Paju, South Korea and Foshan, China.
The city’s economic development manager, David Munro, told The Tri-City News that some of the arrangements were signed in the 1990s and had gone dormant over the years. He noted that by concluding the partnerships with Laizhou, China, Tochigi, Japan and Ormoc, Quezon and San Juan, Philippines, staff will be able to better pay attention to the two agreements that are producing results.
“We are refocusing our priorities,” Munro said. “I think we wanted to make sure the relationships are active and beneficial to both parties.”
He added that successful agreements feature economic, educational and cultural elements.
For example, delegations from Paju have met with the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce and 20 students from the South Korean city recently took part in a School District 43 summer program in Coquitlam. Foshan also has an active relationship with the SD43, Munro said.
“We have folks living here with connections back to China and South Korea,” he added. “These two cities have been very active.”
The educational component is significant, Munro said, because people who attend school in the area from overseas are more likely to forge business relationships in the community. As well, the average student generates $30,000 in economic spinoffs for the community, he added.
While government-to-government partnerships are important in providing economic and cultural benefits, as well as shared information on best practices, there are no imminent plans of adding new sister or friendship city agreements any time soon, Munro said.
“If there is a good relationship down the road, we will look at it,” he said. “But at this point in time, lets focus on the relationships that are creating value.”
SOLAR-POWERED PHONE STATION
Visitors to Coquitlam’s Spirit Square need not worry if their phone is on the verge of running out of juice.
The city has installed a solar-powered charging station next to a bench at the green space, which is located on Burlington Drive across from city hall and is capable of powering up two phones. One unit costs $3,000 and was paid for out of the city’s hardware operating budget. The project is part of Coquitlam’s submission for the Smart Cities Challenge, a contest run by Infrastructure Canada that could see millions in federal grants given to the winner.
According to city staff, the phone charging station is weather-resistant and collects solar power during the day and stores the energy in batteries for charging at any time. The batteries can provide up to 10 hours of charging and can still hold a charge after a week of clouds and rain, the city said in a press release. People who use the charger must provide their own USB cord. Use of the station will be monitored and if it is popular, more outlets will be added to other public spaces.