In a first for a new Global Affairs Canada-sponsored program, delegates from Vinto, Cochabamba, Bolivia are in Timmins this week in an effort to exchange ideas in hopes of improving each other’s municipalities.

Vinto’s Mayor Maria Patricia Arce Guzman was clearly emotional when the Bolivian flag was hoisted at Timmins city hall Monday morning.

She—through translator Erik D. Meier—says the goal is to find ways to retain youth in the community, and improve the lives of women and children.

“These groups are vulnerable groups, and what we want is to increase the local capacity so that they can start having income, revenue, and improve their livelihoods,” Meier noted.

The program is run through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

Katherine Murillo, Program Manager for FCM International, says Timmins had a very strong application.

She adds the Timmins Economic Development Corporation’s work with trying to include youth and starter companies helped draw interest with pairing them with Vinto.

Murillo says there could also be common interests between the two communities.

“Perhaps there are businesses in Timmins who might be interested in what businesses in Bolivia are doing,” she stated, “There could be other opportunities, not just the municipal-to-municipal partnership but it’s the whole of the community to see what else…maybe the Chamber of Commerce, maybe there’s a school that wants to get involved in a partnership with a school in Vinto. The opportunities are there.”

Councillor Noella Rinaldo—who was part of a similar delegation trip to Vinto in August—says they’ve already learned stuff from the way Vinto conducts business.

This is the first time in the program’s history that a delegation from outside Canada comes to visit the city they’re paired with.

Delegates will be around for the week, including a trip up to Kapuskasing.

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