All Politics is Local

Vancouver Rotary going for the hotter sister?

An email from Fort Vancouver National Trust President Elson Strahan, in his role as president of the Rotary Club of Vancouver, has prompted a few raised eyebrows at City Hall.

In the (warning: long!) email, Strahan discusses the status of the relationship with Joyo, Japan, which has been Vancouver’s Sister City since the Hagensen administration.

Strahan said continued financial support of the relationship with Joyo has been “called into question.” Also, he wrote, there’s a “growing desire” to strengthen the Vancouver Rotary Club’s bond with its latest Sister Club, the Rotary Club of Puerto Vallarta Sur.

The eyebrow-raising part was this: “The City has stopped administering its official Sister City relationship,” Strahan wrote.

That came as news to the city. State law prohibits spending public money on Sister City relationships so the city relies on partners, such as the Rotary Club, to assist with gifts and hosting events. However, the city continues to work with delegations from Joyo to schedule time with council and staff, provides letters of congratulations for various events in Joyo and does an annual exchange of children’s art, said Jan Bader, the city’s policy director. In 2012, former Vancouver Mayor Bruce Hagensen delivered a written history of the Sister City relationship when he traveled to Joyo for the city’s anniversary celebration.

Bader said she’s been the point person on Sister City issues for years and as far as she knows, the city hasn’t made a decision or taken any action to discontinue the relationship with Joyo.

In fact, student art for this year’s exchange will be on display at New Seasons in east Vancouver before it gets shipped to Joyo.

JoyoArt

Here’s Strahan’s email:

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Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at stephanie.rice@columbian.com or 360-735-4508.

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