Whitehorse dumps two sister cities

Well, so much for absence makes the heart grow fonder… Distance, neglect and a seeming lack of interest has led to Whitehorse severing ties…

Well, so much for absence makes the heart grow fonder…

Distance, neglect and a seeming lack of interest has led to Whitehorse severing ties with two of its sister cities — Echuca, Australia and Castries, St. Lucia.

Well, it’s severing ties with one sister city.

The other died.

Echuca, Australia, no longer exists — it was absorbed into a larger shire.

So, Whitehorse’s extended family will shrink to three sister cities.

From the beginning, the relationships with the two banished cities have been strictly ceremonial in nature, said Whitehorse’s director of administrative services Robert Fendrick.

This includes an agreement that each city would fly the flag of the other on a given day each year.

We don’t even know they’re doing that, said Fendrick.

Echuca was Whitehorse’s first sister city, proclaimed in 1977.

Whitehorse’s relationship with Castries hasn’t been much closer.

Though former Whitehorse officials used to lend their expertise to the city — usually visiting the tropical island in the dead of winter — the relationship has fallen on hard times.

Lately, it is little more than ceremonial.

As a result, Whitehorse has decided to rescind the sister-city relationship with both.

But the sisters know nothing of their impending abandonment.

Whitehorse officials have not discussed this with counterparts in either Echuca or Castries.

“We’re basically going to unilaterally just do this,” said Fendrick.

“They have not, on the other hand, contacted us. I think we’ve basically dropped off their radar screens.”

The decision won’t have any real financial impact, Fendrick added.

The object of the sister-city relationship is to promote peace, friendship and sharing.

Whitehorse has had a very active relationship with its three other sister cities.

Last summer a delegation of children from Ushiku, Japan, came to visit Whitehorse.

And the Association franco-yukonnaise is planning an exchange visit to Lancieux, France, later this year.

Lancieux is holding an anniversary for Robert Service who lived in the city after his famous stint in the Yukon.

The French association wants to attend.

And it wants the city to pony up $2,000 for the trip.

That request is forcing politicians to question how much they should spend on their sisters.

“I would like to know what the $2,000 is going to be used for, first of all,” said councillor Doug Graham.

“Because if it’s subsidizing travel I’m totally opposed to that.

“I just don’t think that property taxes should be used to fund a trip to France.”

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