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Esquimalt opts not to pursue Japanese twin

Limited financial and municipal staff resources factor into decision


After years of on- and off-again efforts to twin Esquimalt with a municipality in Japan, the idea has again been nixed.

"It's an unfortunate set of circumstances," said Mayor Barb Desjardins, following council's decision Monday night (June 18) not to forge a twinning connection with Tagajo, Japan.

The suggestion was made last month by Canada's ambassador to Japan, Jonathan Fried.

The township has been interested in twinning with Onagawa, Japan, located in the same prefecture as Tagajo, since at least 1989. A twinning task force was created by 1992. The twinning idea was shelved, given limited resources, but later resurfaced in 2010.

Onagawa ultimately declined Esquimalt's offer, siting a long-standing relationship with Nelson, B.C., but the two municipalities have stayed in touch.

"The reason we were doing it was because it was Onagawa, not because it was just to twin," Desjardins said, adding that twinning is not in the township's 2012 community plan.

Twinning could require staff and financial resources, and more involvement and support from the community, according to a staff report to council. It's estimated that municipal twinning budgets range from zero dollars to $25,000.

Desjardins has long touted twinning as an opportunity to expand a community's cultural awareness, leading to economic relationships and the exchange of ideas.

"I think there's a lot of value in it, but I don't think that in these fiscally restrained years that it will happen," she said.