Kouga Municipality and their Canadian counterparts Prince Edward County signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Jeffreys Bay on Friday, confirming their commitment to work together on matters of Local Economic Development
The Canadian delegation, which included the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), spent last week in Kouga to discuss areas of collaboration with the local municipality.
The FCM represents 90% of Canadian municipalities and they are funded directly by their national government to conduct developmental programmes in their country.
The South African Local Government Association (Salga), a representative body of all municipalities in the country, facilitated the sessions between the parties.
The visit forms part of the Building Inclusive Green Municipalities (BIGM) programme, an initiative between Salga and FCM aimed at identifying mutually-beneficial development opportunities between South African and Canadian communities.
It was borne out of an agreement between the governments of the two countries, signed in 2015, and is financed by the Canadian government.
Kouga is one of six South African municipalities participating in the programme. The others are Mbizana, Port St Johns, King Sabata Dalindyebo, Ngqushwa and Ndlambe Municipalities.
Odette Gauthier from the FCM said the original concept was to focus on asset management, climate change and capacity building, but that after thorough discussions, the parties agreed that Local Economic Development should be central to the partnership between Kouga and Prince Edward County.
“We will be able to share the successes and good experiences we derive from this partnership with other municipalities, both here in South Africa and in Canada, so this is a very important exercise,” she said.
Councillor Steve Ferguson, representing his Mayor, Robert Quaiff, said Prince Edward County was also dependent on agriculture as an economic driver and also had a modest population during the year which increased drastically during the summer holiday seasons as people flocked to the coast.
“We hope to learn about your community as you learn about ours,” he said.
Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen said Kouga looked forward to sharing local experience with the Canadians and learning from them in return.
The two municipalities will now work on specific projects that will be implemented over the next two-and-a-half years.
A Kouga delegation visited Canada in October last year.