The City of Windsor’s International Relations Committee will receive $15,000 from the 2017 budget. This sum will be added to money being carried over from previous budgets in anticipation of a busy anniversary year hosting delegations of Windsor’s twin cities, over the course of multiple events.
Councillor Fred Francis is the chairperson of the IRC. He says that council approved the IRC to carry over $68,336 from past years. This is in addition to the $15,000 the committee received in this year’s budget; thus the IRC’s total budget is $83,336.
The IRC is the only committee supported by the City that can carry over money and create a balance. This is due to the fact the scheduling of visiting delegations from twinning cities can sometimes be unpredictable.
The money allotted to the IRC goes towards visiting delegations’ living accommodations, food, transportation and any excursions they choose to attend. Also, it pays for the travel costs of members on the IRC when they go to visit twin cities abroad.
Francis believes that this year will be a very busy year for the IRC, as a two-person delegation has been invited from every city with whom Windsor has a twinning relationship with, to celebrate Windsor’s 125th anniversary.
Out of the IRC’s 12 twinning relationships, Francis believes six or seven delegations will attend. It is important to Francis to get as many cities as possible to visit. “We want to re-establish the relationships that have been more dormant,” he said.
Though people have criticized the IRC for carrying over money from the budget year to year, IRC committee member Blake Roberts sees the committee in a different way. He believes there are many tourism and economic benefits that are hard to measure. “If you are not in the game, you are not going to have those benefits,” Roberts said, when talking about the importance of having this committee.
Francis also brought up the tourism, cultural and political benefits of having the IRC. Specifically, he noted how council may apply practices that twin city Mannheim Germany uses, when they create their master environmental plan. As Mannheim is well known for its environmental practices. Francis believes that without having connections with a similar city, it would be hard to learn and grow.
Though these relationships with foreign cities may seem odd, they are not chosen at random. Francis brought up how many are based on those living in the city. “The connections are already there based on the population we have,” he said.
Roberts citied an example of this with the twin city of Udine. Many of the Italians in Windsor hail from Udine which is in the Friuli region of northern Italy. These Italians founded the Fogolar Furlan Club in Windsor and because of this community connection, Udine and Windsor were twinned in 1977.
Currently the IRC has two major events planned between June 24th and July 2nd. First, there is the 30th anniversary of Windsor’s twinning relationship with Fujisawa Japan which is projected to cost the committee $5,862.04, according to a preliminary draft in the committee’s minutes.
Shortly after this the committee will have the 125th-anniversary celebration with the twin cities. This is currently projected to cost the committee $19,567.35. The event will run from June 29th to July 2nd, 2017.