Vancouver takes it slow with Dubrovnik

The Vancouver City Council, after expressing concerns about being a Sister City to Dubrovnik, Croatia, agreed Monday to start a relationship.

However, the council is taking it slow.

In a change of plans,  what was approved Monday was an agreement with Bravo! Vancouver that outlines what needs to be done to establish a formal friendship with Dubrovnik. If things go well over the next two years, the council would vote again to be a Sister City.

City Councilor Larry Smith expressed his appreciation in an awkward metaphor.

“I think you have to court someone before you marry someone,” Smith said, obviously not realizing that using marriage to talk about what you want to do with your “sister” doesn’t help stereotypes about Vantucky. He likened Bravo! to a “marriage broker.”

Councilor Jack Burkman steered clear of marriage talk  — “I’m not going to use that strained metaphor myself, you’ve used it well,” he told Smith  — but said there are many steps in a relationship, and signing the agreement with Bravo! marks a significant step.

The council had workshops on Dec. 10 and May 6, and councilors wanted to make sure Bravo! was committed. State law prohibts use of public funds to host Sister City events and buy gifts for visiting officials, so a relationship has to have a sponsor.  Under the agreement approved Monday, Bravo! needs to “develop a 12-month work plan and budget for establishing and maintaining a Friendship relationship between the cities of Vancouver and Dubrovnik.” The work plan “should include creation of a Steering Committee that broadly represents the community and includes at least two members that are not Bravo board members or volunteers.” Bravo! also needs to coordinate “gifts, meals, interpreters, transportation and related activities during proposed Dubrovnik Sister City/Friendship visits to Vancouver,” as well as other duties.

The city, in return, will invite Dubrovnik officials to begin a formal friendship. And if the Dubrovnik officials answer the “Do you like me?” note by checking the “yes,” box,  then the city “will develop a letter of agreement outlining the proposed relationship activities of each organization over the course of the following two years.”

I’m kidding about the “Do you like me?” note, but not about the relationship outline. There are several other buzz-killing steps, and you can read about them here.

Still, councilors were upbeat about last night’s progress, and, if anything, this gives Mayor Tim Leavitt — provided he’s still mayor in two years — a chance to work on rolling the r in his new friend’s name. Leavitt joked about his inability to roll the r and Mirjana Filipovic earned a laugh when she took her turn at the microphone to ask the council to approve the agreement.

“Mayor, you are going to be first student of Croatian school,” said Filipovic, secretary of the  Croatian Fraternal Union of America Lodge 401. “You are going to receive free scholarship.”




Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at or 360-735-4508.

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