Wenjiang - Halton Hills' Sister City
On a beautiful June day in 2016, a very special ceremony took place at the John Elliott Theatre. Mayor Rick Bonnette and Secretary Dao Ming of Wenjiang District signed a historic agreement that would establish friendly cooperative relations between Halton Hills and Wenjiang District, Chengdu City, in the People's Republic of China. In other words, the Town of Halton Hills and Wenjiang are now “sister cities”; separated by miles, but together in spirit of mutual respect, friendship and cooperation.
2016 年美丽的六月，在荷顿山市约翰. 埃利奥特大剧院举行了一次非常特殊的庆典仪式。 瑞克.博内特市长和温江区委书记王道明签定了荷顿山市及中华人民共和国成都巿温江区建立友好合作关系的历史性协议书。 虽然相隔万里，本着相互尊重，友好及合作的精神，荷顿山市和温江市成为了姐妹城市。 荷顿山市及温江市将在经济发展，促进投资，再生能源，低碳经济，可持续性发展，环境保护, 文化及艺术，旅游以及教育等方面展开积极的合作。
Located in southwest China, in Sichuan province, Wenjiang is one of nine districts that make up the larger City of Chengdu. The population of Chengdu is about 14 million. Chengdu is a key commercial centre in southwest China with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about $200 billion and annual growth of 9%. Wenjiang District has a rich history dating back 4000 years with a population of about 700,000 people. Wenjiang is a thriving, diversified and modern community - leading in sustainable development, innovation, high-tech manufacturing, education, agriculture and tourism.
It is an agreement between two communities to promote cultural and commercial ties. Designed to foster friendship and understanding between different cultures, a “sister city” relationship encourages trade and tourism, as well as an opportunity to increase and form strategic international links between two communities. “Twinning” between cities became very popular after World War II as a means to strengthen bonds by encouraging a deeper understanding between cultures.
The catalyst for the partnership was the September 2015 delegation to China which included Mayor Rick Bonnette. As a result of that trade mission, relationships were established with many Chinese cities. In November 2015, the Town of Halton Hills hosted a delegation from Chengdu City, China. During this delegation, Ms. Tian Rong, Vice Mayor of Chengdu City invited the Mayor and a delegation from Halton Hills to visit Chengdu City and explore a twinning agreement.
This is the first time the Town of Halton Hills has signed an international agreement of this magnitude. The agreement between Halton Hills and Wenjiang District allows both communities to:
- Promote friendly exchanges among their people;
- Actively cooperate in the areas of economic development, investment promotion, renewable energy, low-carbon economy, sustainable development, environmental protection, culture and arts, tourism and education/knowledge-exchange;
- Deepen the economic and trade contacts between Chambers of Commerce and enterprises in both communities; and
- Work diligently to raise the quality of life for people in both communities.
This agreement and its areas of focus are directly aligned with the Town’s Strategic Action Plan. In addition, they also align closely with the priorities set out by the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada. This international agreement will pave the way for greater trade, improved prosperity and an enhanced quality of life for both communities
The next step will be to implement the Council-approved Action Plan. The Action Plan will benefit Halton Hills and Wenjiang. It consists of 22 actions which are organized into five themes:
- Arts, Culture and Economic Development
- Sustainable Development and Energy Conservation
- Business and Economic Investment
- Education and Health Care
April 20, 2017 marked a key milestone in implementing the education focus of the Halton Hills-Wenjiang Action Plan. Attended by about 650 students and teachers, a successful and energetic school assembly took place at Ethel Gardiner elementary school. Attendees enjoyed a presentation about Wenjiang and their sister-school, and a video about the Guanghua Primary school in Wenjiang. The assembly was the result of close collaboration between the Town, Halton District School Board, and a dedicated team of teachers and students at Ethel Gardiner. Over time, the sister-school partnership between Ethel Gardiner and Guanghua will be solidified with numerous actions. These actions may include the signing of an official 'Sister-School Partnership Agreement’; collaborating on projects over social media; students being pen pals; and preparing and sharing videos on school life. Ethel Gardiner will be Guanghua’s only second sister school, and the only one in North America.
Guanghua is said to be the best primary school in Wenjinag. It is currently attended by about 1400 students. When completed, it will be attended by about 3000 students. The school offers many modern facilities, including a TV studio, digital classrooms and dance studios.
The partnership between Ethel Gardiner and Guanghua will help build cultural awareness, share knowledge, and create lasting friendships between Halton Hills and Wenjiang.
Assisting Local Businesses
The Town’s Economic Development Office is reaching out to local business owners to determine who is already doing business in China and who is interested in doing so. Staff will consider ways to help local small and medium businesses that may not have the resources or access to the Asian market. The Asian market offers a significant and exciting growth opportunity for the Town of Halton Hills.
Making Cultural Connections
The first in a series of exciting cultural events to promote the Town's unique relationship with Wenjiang was an exibit launched on January 11, 2016 that ran through February 26. The Helson Gallery hosted an extraordinary photographic exhibit (program agenda), which documents the fascinating history of Canadian missionaries who lived in China between 1892 and 1952. This exhibit is a gift to Canadians from Chinese historians, artists and corporate donors. It recognizes and appreciates the many courageous Canadians who made Sichuan, China, their home over 100 years ago. These missionaries contributed to the medical and educational modernization in China.
Halton Hills’ Mayor Rick Bonnette officiated at the opening reception on January 14, 2017 which included over 150 guests from the Halton Hills community and beyond. Guest speakers Marion Walker and Kevin Best spoke of their familial links to the project, enthralling the audience with their poignant reminiscences of Chengdu, and of the legacy they work so strongly to maintain. Special guests Consuls Zishan Chen and Yi Ye were in attendance representing the People’s Republic of China and Consul Chen spoke in appreciation of the strong bond that connects Halton Hills with Chengdu (Wenjiang District). The exhibit was featured on OMNI Television, Cogeco Cable, The Independent Free Press and GeorgetownOn Magazine.
Ec Dev and Corp Policy Advisor
Town of Halton Hills
1 Halton Hills Drive
Halton Hills ON L7G 5G2
Email: Damian Szybalski
Phone: 905-873-2601 ext. 2289
Canadians in Chengdu Photo Exhibit
Second Halton Hills Delegation to Wenjiang
Halton Hills Delegation to Wenjiang
Delegation to China with Mayor Bonnette