Kamloops councillor asking for public input on taxpayer funded trips to Japan
By Dana Reynolds
The Byodoin Phoenix Hall in Uji, Japan.
Image Credit: City of Kamloops
October 08, 2015 - 11:46 AM
KAMLOOPS – Kamloops city council’s cultural exchange to Japan is either far too expensive or actually quite reasonable, depending who you ask, and one councillor is asking residents for their input.
Coun. Denis Walsh would never suggest severing ties with Kamloops’ sister city Uji, Japan but is concerned about the cost of the exchange. Kamloops and Uji travel to each other’s cities on alternating years.
“I agree with this year, I just think that we could save taxpayers some money,” he says. The councillors are set to fly to Japan tomorrow, October 9, to mark the 25th anniversary of the cultural exchange between Uji and Kamloops.
Walsh says the relationship could be as easily served if a delegation only travelled to Japan once every term or four years, instead of every two years.
“We'll have to see what people think about it,” Walsh says, adding he encourages feedback on the matter and would even put a motion forward to council.
Walsh says he would never intentionally disrespect Kamloops’ sister city, he just believes the trips could be scaled back.
“We have a budget of $40,000 for our sister city relationship yearly. I don’t know of any time we’ve ever come close to spending $40,000,” says Mayor Peter Milobar.
Milobar says the city spends more of the budget during the years the Japanese delegation visits Kamloops as the city pays for their expenses. The host city pays for the travelling delegation’s hotel rooms and banquet dinners.
The airfare this time is roughly $1000 per person and he expects the total cost of the Uji trip to come in at about $8,000 this year.
“It’s cost me significantly more money sometimes to go to Ottawa for a trip. So I think sometimes people get caught up in the distance and not necessarily what’s actually happening," he says.
Milobar says what the city doesn’t spend becomes surplus at budget time.
The mayor and most of the councillors travelling to Japan – Ken Christian, Dieter Dudy, Arjun Singh and Tina Lange – leave tomorrow and will travel back in Kamloops Oct. 19.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015