Sister city exchange program threatened

The city’s 30-year exchange program with its Japanese sister city, Ishikari, is being threatened by a lack of funding

The city’s 30-year exchange program with its Japanese sister city, Ishikari, is being threatened by a lack of funding.

The Campbell River Twinning Society is struggling to find money to stay afloat after its Community Gaming Grant funding was pulled last year.

The gaming grant criteria was changed in 2011, and the Twinning Society was subsequently notified that it was no longer eligible for funding under the new terms and conditions.

Andy Adams, Twinning Society president and city councillor, said that meant the society’s usual $6,000 grant was reduced to $3,333 in 2011 and $0 in 2012.

The society does receive some funding from the city, but it’s not enough.

“As our funding from the City of Campbell River’s Community Partnership Commission is contingent on 50 per cent matching funds – which we were using the provincial gaming funds as the matching funds – if unsuccessful in securing future Community Gaming Funding support we will be in serious jeopardy of maintaining our existence,” Adams said.

“This would be truly tragic to lose such a rich and valuable program that has created multi-generational family, political and cultural ties that are priceless.”

The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch denied the Twinning Society a grant because in its view the society did not meet the requirement of providing a clear benefit to the community. The branch, in denying the grant request, wrote that the society’s “student exchange programs appear to provide more of a benefit to the participants travelling to Japan and/or living there for a year, than the community at large.”

But Adams said the Twinning Society “strongly believes” that it does provide a broad community benefit and will be applying again for a gaming grant in 2013.

“There is significant evidence of the community benefit of the Twinning Society in Campbell River such as participation in the annual Winter Traditions Around the World at the museum, the annual Canada Day parade, the annual Japanese Cultural Fair held in Spirit Square, significant art and cultural legacies in the community such as the tenth anniversary gift of the Torri Gate in Sequoia Park (across from the museum) (and) the 25th anniversary gift of twenty-five cherry blossom trees that line City Hall Park,” Adams said.

Since the sister city proclamation was signed, 850 students have visited back and forth. Students have participated in the year-long Senior Exchange Program for high school students or the Young Ambassador Program – a 10-day exchange for students in both middle school and elementary school.

For more information on the Twinning Society visit www.twinningcr.bc.ca