How many countries should Burlington twin with?

 SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2020



Burlington has twinned itself with two cities: Itabashi in Japan and Appeldoorn in the Netherlands.

The relationship with each city is robust with delegations from Burlington going to Holland and Japan and delegations from those countries visiting Canada.

It is a satisfying relationship for everyone and the cost is minimal.

Storming the beach on D day

Canadian soldiers storming the beach of Normandy on D-Day

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward spent the 75th Anniversary of D-Day on Juno Beach in France. Prior to her leaving for the trip she learned about the very significant role Burlington plays in Courseulles-sur-Mer. The Juno Beach Centre was designed by an architect from Burlington and paid for with funds raised in Burlington.

The Mayor of  Courseulles-sur-Mer is reported to have asked Mayor Meed Ward if they could twin with Burlington. It sounded like a nice idea with much merit. Far too many Canadian men lost their lives storming the beaches of France on D-Day. It was the event that turned the tide of WWII. Twinning with Courseulles-sur-Mer  would be very fitting.

It raises the question, however, of just how many countries does Burlington want to twin with. There has to be a limit somewhere.

The Mundialization Committee is working through a number of ideas including the creation of a second category which would be a “friendship” relationship that would involve a lot less interaction and probably not include visits to France. (Link to that report below.)

The Mundialization Committee has not made any decisions; the Mayor is going to be in Holland for the 75th Anniversary of the end of the second world war and has plans to make a side trip to France to follow up on the idea.

I have a very serious concern over the creation of a “friendship” relationship with Courseulles-sur-Mer while we maintain a full blown boisterous relation with a city in Japan.

Canadians died on the beaches of France defending democracy.

Canadians died in the Pacific in a war we fought to bring an end to; a nation that attacked Pearl Harbour and wanted to conquer  America.

Perhaps the status of Itabashi could be downgraded to one of “friendship” and Courseulles-sur-Mer brought in as a twin.

It might be awkward from a diplomatic point of view but to put that small sea-side community whose beaches our men died on to defend democracy as a “friend” while Itabashi has a full blown twinning  relationship is just not right.

Juno Beach Centre

Juno Beach Centre at Courseulles-sur-Mer, a beach where many Canadian men died during the D-Day landings.

Canadian troops liberated Apeldoorn in World War Two; an event that is celebrated by both countries every November 11th.

Japan and Germany have come along way from being what they were in the 1940’s but we don’t celebrate the wars they started.

Related news story:

Council to decide how many locations around the world the city will twin with.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.


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12 comments to How many countries should Burlington twin with?

  • Joe Gaetan

    Why not twin with a city in our own country? Lower carbon footprint and much needed.

  • Stephen White

    There are a lot more important priorities facing this City right now. Mundialization is not one of them.

    I appreciate the sacrifice that our brave Canadian soldiers made in liberating Holland from the Nazis in WWII. That should be recognized and honoured. I also understand we are twinned with Itabishi. Fine. But unless someone can provide a really detailed benefit/cost analysis on the perceived advantages and disadvantages of further mundialization/twinning programs it should end here. Full stop.

    An important part of effective management is identifying priorities, focusing on that which is important, and dispensing with that which isn’t. This is clearly a non-critical issue.

  • Helen Donohoe

    Courseulles-sur-Mer (CSM) is a small town, under 5000 inhabitants, with several twinned cities already, including one in Canada – Rigaud, Quebec. I’m not sure how many more it can handle. Rather than an official twinning, a more informal connection may be more appropriate, e.g., information on Burlington city website about CSM (possibly a video) and its Burlington connection, with video about Burlington made available to CSM. Burlingtonians in general are well-travelled; the opportunity to learn about CSM (and also Apeldoorn, Itabashi) ahead of time, would allow them to include it in their travel itinerary, thus allowing “unofficial” delegations and opening opportunities to more residents. The very term “official delegation” sounds stuffy and outdated, not in keeping with the present council.

    I’ve been to Normandy. It’s a delightful part of France.

    If googling CSM, add “jumelage”, French for twinning, to your search.

  • Frank Rybicki

    Taxpayers should question politicians they don’t have a free ride

  • Frank Rybicki

    What is the cost to the Burlington taxpayer of visiting these cities i.e. travel,hotels etc.for Mayor family ? The resulting benefits are questionable

  • Steve Holman

    Does a local Burlington official need to travel around the globe to cement these new relationships? It is certainly not necessary, not sure who actually benefits. I don’t think local taxpayers benefit. It would be great to see the local politicians stay at city hall and deal with the myriad of issues we have here.

  • When the role of Council is to be transparent and maintain financial integrity and our Mayor introduces a motion out of the blue to do a side trip to France on the Apeldoorn trip and wants immediate approval we believe it needs picking apart. Too much is slipped through when attention is elsewhere that we don’t get to know about unless there are eyes on these meetings.

  • Penny Hersh

    Burlington can twin with how many countries it would like. The problem that exists is the travel between the countries. In this day of technology it is not imperative that going from one country to the other is the only way to communicate.

    At Simon Fraser University, they have stopped much of the travel for conferences etc. Face to Face conversations are available through technology, and many conferences are now live streamed.

    With our municipality declaring a Climate Change Emergency it is time to look at the progressive ways now available to communicate. Not to mention the money it would save.

  • ken b

    disgusting to see council travel searching

  • Perryb

    The message here is: no matter what you do these days, someone will find a way to pick it apart.