Next year will be the 40th anniversary of Penticton’s sister city relationship with Ikeda, Japan.
Penticton has the honour of having one of the oldest, and until recently, most successful sister city relationships in Canada. But the “until recently” qualifier is in reference to the City of Penticton’s apparent lack of interest in the relationship over the last few years.
There are still strong supporters of the sister city relationship: the Penticton-Ikeda Sister City Society is planning to send a delegation to Ikeda to celebrate this milestone anniversary. Whether or not city council is going to support it with more than just words is still up in the air.
City Hall has been tightening belts for several years including limiting travel by council members. That has been the case in Ikeda as well, where economic concerns have made it difficult to send delegations.
Coun. Tarik Sayeed has already said he would join the delegation as the city’s representative, even if he has to pay his own way. In this case, though, we’d like to see city council loosen that belt enough to send official representatives to Ikeda for the 40th anniversary. Not the whole council, of course, but perhaps our mayor, along with Sayeed, whose enthusiasm would be a bonus.
There isn’t a lot of financial return from a sister city relationship, though there has been economic links between Penticton and Ikeda in the past. But the main return comes from the social and cultural exchange.
Over the years it has been a fantastic opportunity for many Penticton residents to travel to a small town in Japan and meet Japanese people, see how they live and participate in some of their festivals. Another result of the relationship was the creation of the city’s Japanese Gardens, behind the Penticton Art Gallery.
It’s time to renew our ties to the larger world. Let’s not let this cherished relationship become just a memory, with only the Japanese Gardens left to remind us.