The City of Mount Pearl has agreed to serve as a twin for Belmopan, the capital city of Belize, a small country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south.
Mayor Randy Simms said that during a discussion prior to last week’s council meeting, Ralston Frazer, a councillor responsible for business development, investment and public utilities in Belmopan, asked if Mount Pearl would be interested in twinning with his city.
“I told him I wouldn’t even ask you,” Simms said, addressing his colleagues jocularly. “I told him the answer is yes.”
Frazer was part of a delegation of municipal councillors from Caribbean countries who visited St. John’s and Mount Pearl under a Federation of Canadian Municipalities initiative to help councils in developing countries strengthen local governance, democracy and economic development practices by studying Canadian cities and towns. Mount Pearl has been a supporter of the program for several years, with staff having travelled to several countries in the Caribbean to provide expertise in local economic development initiatives. Representatives from St. Lucia, Jamaica, Belize, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago composed the delegation visiting Newfoundland this month.
Simms said the twinning with Belmopan, a city of about 20,000 people, will involve an exchange of information on best practices in municipal administration.
Frazer confirmed for the rest of Mount Pearl council that the first subject he raised with Simms when they met was the establishment of a “sister city relationship, where we can share and learn from each other’s best practices.”
Frazer said there isn’t a whole lot of difference between Mount Pearl and Belmopan. “But I know that you are more advanced,” he said. “The things we are now going through, you guys have gone through them and are in the process of developing systems that you are putting in place. That is one thing we can learn from you, how you got through it, what steps you made to get past those challenges. We would be glad to learn from you guys… We want to know your pitfalls, how you did all of it and it may help us to avoid some of these pitfalls and not make the same mistakes that you did.”
Frazer thanked council for backing Simms’ decision and encouraged Mount Pearl’s councillors to visit Belize.