The future of the Port Hardy Twinning Society (PHTS) has been decided, at least for the time being.
The PHTS sent a report to council back at the beginning of September stating that “the current delivery of the twinning relationship by the PHTS does not appear to be sustainable at this time.”
According to the report, which was submitted by Leslie Driemel (Chair), Mark Jones (Treasurer), and Shantel Genest (Secretary), the executive, who are all volunteers, are “burnt out after serving and working too many years without a break from their positions. The chair has acted and been responsibly involved for close to 25 years. Other members of the executive have served extended terms in positions within the society and society membership has dwindled to unsupportable levels.”
The report also states that interest and membership in twinning has “diminished significantly despite the best efforts of current twinning members. The extent of lack of interest is shown by the fact there were no paid twinning memberships in 2019 and the cancellation of the August exchange trip to Numata from Port Hardy. This cancellation was a direct result of a lack of interest from the community.”
According to the society, in its heyday it was customary to send as many as 15 delegates to Numata, at times led by a Port Hardy council representative and/or the Mayor.
“It is time to refresh the delivery of the twinning relationship as well engage alternative leadership options,” stated the report, adding that change is required to the delivery of the twinning relationship with Numata. “Council, who is signatory to the twinning agreement, must determine the next steps regarding the twinning delivery.”
The report also posed the question: Does Port Hardy desire to continue its twinning relationship with Numata?
“Should the answer be YES, then: how and who is best able or capable to deliver the twinning mandate given its current circumstances?”
Recommendation to Port Hardy council
The PHTS members stated they do not want to see the twinning relationship with Numata collapse. As such, they would like council to dissolve the current society structure, “and implement a project-based delivery, managed and led by town council and resources supported by community volunteers.”
The report was discussed at a Committee of the Whole meeting, and the committee recommended to council that the District of Port Hardy work towards “transitioning the current society structure to the district through a project-based approach under the Parks Recreation, Arts and Culture Committee (PRACC).”
What does that mean exactly?
According to PRACC Chair Fred Robertson, the transition is still in the very early stages at the moment, and the PRACC are in the middle of “looking at how we can make it work – I’m in favour of it, council sees a value in it, and we just need to figure out how exactly to approach it.”
Background on the society
The PHTS, a not for profit organization, was established in February of 2002 by members of the District of Port Hardy Economic Development Committee to manage the day to day twinning agreement signed between the towns of Numata, Japan and Port Hardy in 1994. The purpose of the Society was to strengthen and advance friendship of the two communities through the promotion of exchanges in the field of economy, culture, education and sports. Since 1994 delegations from Numata and Port Hardy have both hosted and travelled to each community, where individuals experienced local cultures and participated in local activities. Beyond these exchanges, the PHTS has promoted the Twinning relationship, raising awareness and soliciting interest of the public through events in Port Hardy, FILOMI days, regional fall fairs and establishing visual remembrances of its sister city relationship with Numata – such as the Torii Gate, the Japanese garden in Carrot Park as well as visual displays in and around Port Hardy.