Collaboration with South African municipality begins

Kouga Local Municipality councillor Bryan Dhludhlu speaks with councillor Gord Fox and Mayor Robert Quaiff on Oct. 23. (submitted photo)

 

CHAD IBBOTSON

STAFF WRITER

The County welcomed a group of international visitors this week as part of a three-year partnership supporting mutual learning and economic development.

Representatives from the Kouga Local Municipality of South Africa were welcomed to Shire Hall on Monday morning. A news release from the County says the partnership is part of the Building Inclusive Green Municipalities (BIGM) program delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), in conjunction with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).

The representatives from Kouga, SALGA, and FCM visited the County this week. Throughout their visit the delegation participated in strategic planning exercises in an effort to establish guidelines for the three-year project. The group will identify the type of advice, training, and knowledge-sharing activities needed to support the initiative, the release says.

Mayor Robert Quaiff says the program is a chance to assist fellow municipal leaders while adding to the County’s profile.

“We are thrilled to build on previous international partnerships and share our expertise and best practices in rural economic development with the Kouga Local Municipality,” Quaiff says. “Participation in the Building Inclusive Green Municipalities program allows us to leverage our local knowledge and experience to assist our friends and partners in Kouga with the opportunities and challenges they are facing, while growing the County’s capacity and profile both nationally and internationally as a leader in this area.”

In addition to attending workshops, the visiting delegation attended community events, and met with municipal staff, County councillors, and community members. They will also be observing today’s committee-of-the-whole meeting.

Kouga Local Municipality speaker Horatio Hendricks said in the release the group is excited about the opportunity.

“We are eager to advance this partnership with the County of Prince Edward on this first mission,” Hendricks says. “The knowledge sharing and expertise that we will gain over the course of this week will be invaluable and will help us improve the capacity of our own municipality in terms of economic development, inclusivity, and service delivery.”

Hendricks thanked the County, the Canadian government, FCM, and SALGA for supporting the program.

It isn’t the first time Prince Edward County has been involved with an international partnership program. In 2012, the municipality joined FCM’s Caribbean Local Economic Development Program in which the municipality engaged in discussions with rural Caribbean communities on policy and program development. That too was a three-year partnership.

Economic development director Neil Carbone says in the release BIGM program offers a unique professional development opportunity for County staff and the municipality’s partners from South Africa.

“While we are sharing our expertise and best practices, we benefit by working with the Kouga Local Municipality to find solutions to common challenges such as local economic development, youth empowerment, and climate change mitigation,” Carbone says. “Partnering Canadian municipalities typically learn as much from our international partner as they learn from us.”