Now that the summer is here and Burlington City Council is on break until September, I finally have some time to put together some thoughts on the recent visit the City of Burlington had from Japan with Itabashi Mayor Takeshi Sakamoto and the Official Delegation from Itabashi from June 30-July 3, 2019 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our twinning relationship.
Thinking back on the entire visit (that coincided with our Canada Day celebrations here in Burlington), you discover when you talk about the issues of each of your cities that you have more in common than you originally thought. The similar issues Itabashi is facing related to Burlington are around: traffic and transit, development, a growing aging population, housing affordability, and emergency management planning for climate change, to name a few.
It was also great to be able to share ideas with each other on how each of our cities deals with those issues.
Below you’ll find some of the highlights from the itinerary for the trip:
- Sunday, June 30, 2019
- Mayor Sakamoto and the Itabashi delegation, along with interpreters and tour guides, arrived in Burlington. The Official Delegation included: Chairman Mr. Yoshiuki Motoyama; Itabashi City Assembly Members Mr. Ichiro Yasui, Ms. Kayoko Shiba, Ms. Eri Yamauchi and Mr. Kazumoto Takazawa; Culture and International Exchange Section Director Mr. Tamotsu Yoshida, and Secretariat to the Assembly Vice-General Manager Mr. Hiroshi Maruyama.
- Monday, July 1, 2019
- Official Meet and Greet with Mayor Sakamoto and Itabashi Delegation in Burlington City Hall Council Chambers, followed by a “free talk” between Council members and Itabashi Mayor and Assembly Members.
- Official Opening of the Itabashi Garden next to the Tansley Woods Community Centre.
- Canada Day Opening Ceremonies at Spencer Smith Park.
- Official Welcome Dinner and Reception at Spencer’s on the Waterfront, followed by Canada Day fireworks in the evening.
- Tuesday, July 2, 2019
- Tour of some sites across the City including Burlington Fire Station No. 8 (Appleby), to discuss LEED building certifications and climate change actions building has adapted; and the YMCA Brant Child Care Centre that included a wonderful intergenerational activity between seniors and the young children (there is also a long-term care centre in the same facility).
- Official Sayonara Dinner at the Waterfront Hotel, where the Itabashi Mayor and delegation were staying during their trip.
- Wednesday, July 3, 2019
- Saw Mayor Sakamoto and the Official Itabashi Delegation off before they headed to Pearson Airport for their flight home.
- Mayor Sakamoto was very interested in seeing what we do at the City of Burlington and with every question he asked that was answered by staff, there were times that I learned something new about our City.
- I was so proud to see there was such a warm welcome from our community at every event our guests from Itabashi attended – you made them feel like they were at home. I was also thrilled to see all the positive comments and likes on our social posts during their trip. Mayor Sakamoto expressed his thanks to our citizens every chance he got for rolling out the red carpet for them and giving them such memorable days.
- The new Itabashi Garden was designed by Virginia Burt Designs and built in the courtyard area behind Tansley Woods Community Centre. The design was inspired by and was an incredible blend of the gardens of the Itabashi area and local Burlington landscape, including the escarpment and local plants.
- Virginia Burt was at the opening on July 1 and gave a beautiful speech to all those in attendance — take a read of it here: Itabashi Delegation to Burlington 2019_Virginia Burt_ Itabashi Garden Opening.
- This garden brings our two communities together right in the land.
- During the trip, we discovered Itabashi has a municipal flower (Anemone flaccida), tree (Keyaki) and tourist mascot (Rin-Rin-chan). This is something I’d definitely like to bring into Burlington with our selections having some connection to the City of Burlington’s official crest.
- We also noticed all the Itabashi Assembly members were a special pin just for elected officials — that is also something I’d like to look into implementing for our own Council when we are representing our City.
- During every delegation visit there are official gift exchanges – this year, the City of Burlington received a beautiful painting from Mayor Sakamoto from one of their local artists. I will be presented Burlington’s gift during our official delegation to Itabashi in October.
I also want to thank all the City of Burlington staff and Mundialization Committee members who helped ensure the trip and events went smoothly, included (from City of Burlington) Angela Morgan and the entire Clerks Department, City Clerks Lisa Palermo and Danielle Manton, and Social Media and Digital Specialist Jeevan Brar; and (from the Mundialization Committee) Ed Dorr, Church Morris, Leanne Cecil and Rob Lyng.
I look forward to my Official trip to Itabashi, Japan with a delegation from the City of Burlington in October as part of our dual exchange of our twinning relationship — every five years, both of our cities send reciprocal official delegations. My office will submit a report to Committee and Council similar to the report regarding my trip to Juno Beach in France with itineraries and costs after the official visit.