'Three amigos' learning on the road to FCM
They've interviewed fellow mayors and councillors, toured buildings, fields, parks and pools, and even grabbed a snapshot of a live bait vending machine.
The week-long journey by Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore and Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay ends on Thursday when the "Three Amigos" roll their RV into Niagara Falls for the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) convention, which starts Friday.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), the Tri-City mayors are due to make stops in the Ontario towns of Wawa, Sault Ste. Marie and Blind River before driving to Sudbury, Parry Sound, Mississauga and Niagara Falls on Thursday.
Along the way, they've been documenting their cross-Canada adventures from their WiFi-equipped RV via the Town Haul website (townhaul.ca), Twitter (@townhaulcanada), Instagram (@townhaulcanada) and YouTube channel (townhaulcanada) in an effort to share best municipal practices.
In the meantime, they've also managed to keep up with their local workload, watching their city council meetings via webcast.
Speaking near Dryden on Tuesday, PoCo's Moore said he has enjoyed the trip despite the long days. He's paying attention to civic recreation centres as his council plans to build a new facility.
"We are seeing some of the common challenges in all of our municipalities: infrastructure, funding for that infrastructure and the need to work with other levels of government to partner in redevelopment," said Moore, who also chairs the Metro Vancouver board.
PoMo's Clay said the large number of heavy trucks and trains in the prairies hauling freight has been an eye opener, as have cities dependent on a single resource such as Medicine Hat, which is reliant on the gas industry.
As Port Moody reviews its long-term capital assets management plan, Clay said he has learned on the trip to make sure the city stays diverse.
Coquitlam's Stewart said he's also taking notes about how cities handle climate change risks such as flooding.
All three mayors said they were especially impressed by Canmore, which was hosting an athletes' celebration when they arrived, and Kenora, which is undergoing a revitalization.
As for media, Stewart did a national Radio-Canada interview in French on Tuesday and the three are hoping to catch the attention of CBC comedian Rick Mercer, who will be the keynote speaker at FCM on Sunday afternoon.
"We want to make sure we are doing this in a lighthearted way," Stewart said of Town Haul. "There's tremendous stuff to be learned and we're learning it but we want the public to understand that some of these issues affect every community."