Sisters are one thing, but what if cities just want to be friends?
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart is suggesting the city start a Friendship City Program. In a motion coming to council later this month, Stewart says other cities want to have relationships with Vancouver, but there's no formal mechanism to allow for one, other than the "detailed, extensive, and sometimes costly Sister City agreements."
"Partnering with cities located outside Canada is an effective way by which Vancouver can build and strengthen cultural and business relationships around the globe — especially in an increasingly divided world," states Stewart's motion.
Vancouver does have some sister cities: Los Angeles, Edinburgh, Odessa, Yokohama, and Guangzhou.
Toronto also has sister cities, but they have a friendship city program as well, which the motion cites.
"Toronto’s Friendship City Program applications must be co-sponsored by a Council member as well as an interested community organization, with the candidate city also officially signalling a willingness to participate in a Friendship City agreement," states the motion.
A similar idea is proposed for Vancouver, with a local non-profit society acting as a sponsor responsible for maintaining the multi-municipality friendship (and the costs).
Unlike most human relationships, the program, as proposed, would see agreements end after five years with an option to renew.
Other proposed rules and regulations include:
- One friend city per country
- They need to have a similar size and geography (sorry, Hazebrouck, France)
- Official city involvement is limited to a letter signed by the mayor and annual letters
The motion also asks staff (if the program goes forward) to create "a mechanism for terminating the Friendship City relationship, if it no longer meets a standard such as community reporting, active relationship, or shared values." Essentially a way to break off the friendship.
Council will vote on the program later this month. The motion also includes a request to review the Sister City Program, review the status of the current sister cities, and provide "suggestions for updating the gendered language of the program."