The people running the Vietnamese city of Ha Tinh had a little trouble with some Canadian municipal management concepts like a “bottom-up” approach planning and gender equity, but they proved to be apt pupils willing to work in new ways, a Langley Township planner said.
“We feel they learned a lot and returned home with ideas that will generate positive changes,” Economic Development Manager Gary MacKinnon said.
MacKinnon was speaking at a Township event to mark the wrap-up of a five-year program that saw the Township assist the Vietnamese city in developing an economic development strategy.
It was part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) “Municipal Partners for Economic Development Program” that paired Canadian communities with those in developing countries.
Ha Tinh is the capital city of one of Vietnam’s poorest provinces, a community of 91,000 people located in the northern part of central Vietnam, about 340 kilometres south of Hanoi.
MacKinnon said the Canadian and Vietnamese cities were very similar in size and composition. Both mix rural and urban living.
Representatives from FCM presented Langley Township and Chilliwack with plaques recognizing their participation in the program last Wednesday.
Chilliwack partnered with a Cambodian city, helping it develop a tourism website among other things.
“It truly was an honour to be a part of this process,” said Township of Langley acting mayor Bob Long, who was master of ceremonies for the event. “We are very fortunate to have an exceptional quality of life here in our community, and it is fulfilling to be able to help people in other areas of the world learn, grow, and succeed.”
During the program, representatives from each city travelled to the other.
The Township helped Ha Tinh develop a tourism strategy, create a jobs-for-women initiative and with Trinity Western University, set up a Canada Reading Room library at Ha Tinh University to help people learn English.
In the summer of 2014, books were donated from the TWU campus and Township of Langley libraries.
“FCM thanks council, staff, and residents of the Township of Langley for their long-standing commitment to international development,” said FCM president Brad Woodside.
“Such partnerships show that Canadian municipal know-how can be exported overseas, shared with municipalities, and adapted to their unique needs.”