Richmond plans Quebec sister-city trip to open garden

A City of Richmond delegation is planning to visit its sister city in Quebec later this year to open a garden, with a proposed travel budget of nearly $17,000.  

The visit to Pierrefonds — a sister city of Richmond since 1967 — is for the opening ceremony of the Richmond Garden outside of that city’s new library this summer.

The cost of the trip to Pierrefonds is expected to be $16,199 with a five-per-cent contingency, bringing the total to $16,925. This budget includes flights, hotel rooms, travel fees in the sister city, meals outside of official events and gifts between delegates, such as a city-to-city gift.

Flights, for example, would total $6,342 for seven delegation members, and each member would have a per diem of about $108. Over the course of the three-day trip, the total per diem expense would be almost $2,300.

$1,200 has been set aside for gifts.

The budget for the trip is on the agenda for Tuesday’s general purposes committee meeting.

Richmond’s Sister City Advisory Committee (SCAC) was established in February 1974.

A policy from 2013 states that a delegation will go to each sister city every eight years.

In addition to Pierrefonds, Richmond also has sister-city ties with Wakayama, Japan (established 1973), Xiamen, China (established 2012) and Qingdao, China (established 2008).

The minimum participation for these visits is the mayor or acting mayor; two other members of council (or another number as council decides); city staff members designated by the CAO and up to three SCAC members.

The report notes that the most recent travel delegation was in 2013, when council members travelled to Wakayama to celebrate the 45th anniversary of that sister-city relationship.

The year before, in 2012, members of council travelled to Xiamen to sign a sister-city agreement. There hasn’t been a visit to Pierrefonds since 2007, or Qingdao since 2008.

Travel delegations over the years have been reduced, notes a report to council, in an effort to be “fiscally responsible.”

“This has been done to ensure there is capacity for higher representation from council to travel for major milestone events,” it reads.

Notable upcoming dates, according to the report, are anniversaries for all four sister-cities. Richmond will mark its 55th anniversary with Pierrefonds and its 10th anniversary with Xiamen in 2022. The following year, the city will mark its 15th anniversary with Qingdao and 50th anniversary with Wakayama.

According to the sister-city five-year plan, the cost for five possible sister-city trips between 2020 and 2023 is estimated to total about $140,000, according to the report.

On Monday, council will also be voting to have the SCAC bring forward a finalized travel itinerary and budget for any sister-city-related travel between 2021 and 2023.

Sister-city trips were not included in the SCAC 2019-2022 activity budget, according to the report, so a potential source of the funds for the Pierrefonds trip is council’s contingency account.

Richmond has a Pierrefonds Garden in Minoru Park, in the southwestern portion of the park adjacent to Minoru Chapel, constructed between 1967 and 1968.

© Richmond News