Golden Area Initiatives chosen for special project

GAI and the Town of Golden were chosen to participate in an international development program.

Golden Area Initiatives (GAI) requested a letter of support from the Town of Golden council for the town’s participation in a joint Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) program.

“One of the projects that they work on through their international department, is to reach out to communities all over the world to do best practices and do some comparative work,” said Suzanne McCrimmon, manager of community economic development with Golden Area Initiatives.

“Two years ago, when I first came to Golden, there was a project that was going over to Asia… We made it through the application process, but our community was too small for the size of the project that was going over.”

McCrimmon kept her relationship with FCM over the years, and was made aware of another project six weeks ago. GAI sent in an application, and Golden was accepted to be part of a new project being launched in the Caribbean.

It is a $22-million project, that is funded completely by CIDA. Golden is one of 22 municipalities chosen to participate.

“What this means is, it is a project over five years, funded by CIDA. The Town of Golden and GAI will be chosen at some point to take its expertise and work on specific projects,” said McCrimmon.

The first one will either be at the end of November and first two weeks of December, or early January and February. It is set up as sort of an exchange program, so staff will go there to share expertise at some point, and staff from the Caribbean will come here.

“One of the things they were especially attracted to was the asset management tool that the town uses,” said McCrimmon.

GAI requested a letter of support, saying that they are willing to spare the staff time it will require to be part of this project.

“The only thing that it will cost the municipality is staff time. You’ll never go longer than three weeks,” said McCrimmon.

Town staff and council were generally flattered that Golden had been chosen, but Coun. Keith Hern expressed concern over committing so much staff time.

“We’re constantly told that the staff don’t have any spare time. I would hate to think that this would result in hiring new staff to fill the jobs while staff are away,” said Hern.

Mayor Christina Benty noted that staff do factor in Zingers (unplanned events) into their schedules, and she felt that this was a positive and worthwhile zinger to be a part of.

Council voted in favour of sending a letter of support by a vote of 5-1 (Hern opposed).