Council tackles Twinning troubles

Campbell River Twinning Society seeks funding assistance from City after gaming grant pulled

City council will consider helping the city’s Twinning Society which is threatening to dissolve due to a lack of funding.

After having its gaming funding cut by the province, society president David Armitage said the non-profit is in jeopardy of folding.

“If the Campbell River Twinning Society is not able to secure sustainable operational funding, the executive will have no choice but to make the recommendation in 2015 to dissolve the society and turn the management and operations of the sister city relations over to the city,” Armitage said.

The society, which initiates exchanges with Campbell River’s Japanese sister city, Ishikari, asked council earlier this week for $7,500 on an annual basis. The Twinning Society is also asking council to recognize the sister city relationship as a core service within the legislative services division of city hall.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Coun. Charlie Cornfield made a motion (which was approved by council) to refer that request to council’s upcoming budget planning sessions which take place Feb. 23-25 and Feb. 27.

“I would like to consider that, but I think it needs to be considered in the context of the whole budget,” Cornfield said.

The motion was made and voted on after Mayor Andy Adams recused himself, declaring a conflict of interest because of his past involvement with the Twinning Society.

Adams has recently stepped down as president and from the board of the society, but while serving as president in 2014 he explained, in the society’s annual report, the difficulty the Twinning Society was facing.

“If future funding cannot be developed, such as provincial gaming funds, then the future of the Twinning Society and all of its programs will be in jeopardy as other community funding is directly tied to an organization’s ability to acquire supplementary funding,” Adams said. “As funds diminish, (the society) will slowly be unable to continue as a society. Our financial future outlook is bleak is we cannot regain our gaming funds to continue our community programs and cultural events offered to Campbell River’s citizens.”

The society used to receive $5,000 from the province but changes to the provincial gaming grant criteria reduced funding to the Twinning Society to $3,333 in 2011 and $0 in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The Campbell River Twinning Society has helped more than 850 people cross the Pacific as part of the Campbell River/Ishikari exchange program since the sister city bond was established in 1983.

Each year, high school students from both cities participate in a year-long exchange and in the spring, the Young Ambassador program facilitates 10-day, chaperoned exchanges for elementary and middle school students.

The orange torii gate in Sequoia Park, across from the Museum, is a symbol of the city’s bond with Ishikari and was gifted to Campbell River from Ishikari delegates to mark the 10-year anniversary of the sister city agreement.