The End Of An Era

Posted by Tom Locke on November 27th, 2013 filed in Business, Education, History

This past Monday I had the pleasure of having lunch with some my colleagues who I have worked closely with over the past 20+ years in promoting different initiatives of economic benefit via the Sister City relationship that Vancouver has with Los Angeles.

I should probably correct the last line in the paragraph above and have it say ” … had with Los Angeles” as the Vancouver Los Angeles Sister City Society is now officially no more.  This is largely the result of the City of Vancouver lack of buy-in/support for the Society as an economic generator and relationship builder with their counterparts and business in Los Angeles.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower is credited with the creating of the Sister City initiative back in 1956.  He was very committed to the creation of Sister City partnerships in an effort to increase global cooperation, promote cultural understanding, and stimulate economic development.   Sister Cities initiatives are based on local community development and volunteer action, by motivating and empowering private citizens, municipal officials and business leaders to conduct long-term programs of mutual benefit.

Twenty-seven years ago the cities of Los Angeles and Vancouver declared themselves to be Sister Cities.   The late Mayor Bradley of Los Angeles and then Mayor Mike Harcourt of Vancouver recognized the mutual benefits for their municipalities and countries by actively participating in this initiative.

This initiative was a result of a committee of interested citizens coming together in 1986 to assist the efforts of the City staff in identifying business and cultural exchange opportunities and in 1988 the Vancouver Los Angeles Sister City Society was incorporated as a not-for-profit society.  For many years the Society and City economic development staff worked together to identify industry sectors interested in developing or strengthening opportunities in the US market via Los Angeles.

As an example, in 1987, a group of Vancouver film industry suppliers, unions and related service companies were brought together by the Society and invited to contribute to a program to host a group of key Los Angeles-based film industry professionals. The funds were raised to pay for all the expenses for ten individuals to visit Vancouver for a four-day familiarization tour. These individuals had to meet a rigorous test in terms of their past works. They had to be industry leaders with proven success in the industry and they had to be seen as having potential for future successes. Additionally, they had to be “new ” to British Columbia as this program was specifically designed to showcase Vancouver and environs to new clientele.

Over the next 4 years we did four of these “missions” and I was very proud to chair them.  They were very successful in generating revenue for the province.  Moreover, they aided greatly in relationship building amongst the various film industry sectors in BC.

Whoever would have thought that the film industry would grow into a billion dollar industry.

Too bad the Vancouver Los Angeles Sister City Society isn’t going to be around to assist other industries in our province.

2 Responses to “The End Of An Era”

  1. Roger B Jones Says:

    I was proud to have been on the board of the Vancouver Los Angeles Sister City Society, albeit for only a short period of time. My interest in the organization was to promote accessibility and inclusion between the municipalities. While their American counterparts were bullish on the idea, the City of Vancouver once again dropped the ball. Hopefully there is a better Vision for future opportunities.

  2. Tom Locke Says:


    I recall all the hard work you put into our 20th Anniversary mission in 2006 to Los Angeles to connect with the disabilities communities and share accessibility and inclusion ideas and programs. We were very well received. Sadly, the municipal follow up in Vancouver did not materialize.

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