ARICHAT: Municipal officials reported a very productive visit with a delegation from Vietnam.
The Cape Breton Partnership hosted a group of representatives from the Association of Cities of Vietnam (ACVN) for a technical mission as part of the Partnerships for Municipal Innovation: Local Economic Development (PMI-LED) project.
Before departing for home, the Vietnamese delegation visited the Dundee Resort and Golf Club on June 11, then the Richmond County municipal office in Arichat on June 12.
Richmond CAO Kent MacIntyre said the six-member team wanted to learn how municipalities like Richmond County function.
“We swapped a lot of information on how our municipalities function and they were very interested in council, and what terms do they have so we told them about how we elected a warden and when we have elections,” he noted, recalling how Richmond Deputy Warden James Goyetche was asked how he campaigned in the last election.
The delegation chair told MacIntyre that in Vietnam, politicians can only serve two consecutive five-year terms. He also learned that in Vietnam there is an income tax and a value-added tax which goes directly to municipalities, but there are no property taxes.
“We learned a little bit about how they function,” MacIntyre said. “They function, as far as their committee of 35, they function similar to our council which was very interesting and they make the decisions for their city similar to what we do here. They do not do very much contracting out and they wanted to know a lot about that when they were here.”
The Richmond CAO said the delegation did make an impact on him.
“They do a lot of planning,” MacIntyre recalled. “They do planning for just about every piece of major work in their city. They do a lot of consultation.”
Although Vietnam is still ruled by a communist regime, MacIntyre was surprised to learn that it accepts many elements of capitalism.
“Their cities are very open with their residents about how they’re spending money,” MacIntyre said, explaining how impressed the delegation was with Richmond County’s efforts to publicly disclose its finances to the public.
The Cape Breton Partnership – through the Cape Breton Regional Enterprise Network (CBREN) and the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities – entered into a four-year partnership with the ACVN in 2017 to develop capacity within their organization, foster prosperity, attract investment, and create business opportunities. The first three missions took place in 2017 and 2018 and saw representatives from participating organizations in Nova Scotia take part in strategic planning workshops and other working meetings in Vietnam.
“As Cape Breton’s private sector led economic development organization, the partnership believes that strengthening our relationships on a global scale and learning about how other regions are working in the area of economic development is an important piece of furthering the island’s economic prosperity,” says Carla Arsenault, president and CEO of the Cape Breton Partnership.
Building on the momentum from the previous missions in Vietnam, this mission in Cape Breton saw delegates attending capacity-building workshops and presentations hosted by various Cape Breton organizations and subject-matter experts. The eight-day tour also gave participants an opportunity to learn about Cape Breton’s unique industries, as well as its diverse needs and opportunities across each municipality. Some of the planned activities included meeting with officials from Cape Breton University, networking with municipal councillors, personalized tours from local businesses, and a visit to the Membertou Heritage Park.
Over the course of the project, the Cape Breton Partnership and Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities helped the ACVN strengthen its capacity to plan a community-led economic vision, to offer effective economic development projects and services to their communities, and to adopt policies and practices that promote inclusive and sustainable economic development. Specifically, they will be focused on institutional strengthening, training development, strategic planning, capacity building and policy development.
MacIntyre added that after they presented the delegation with gifts and sat down to lunch, he exchanged business cards with members of the delegation and expects to keep in contact.
“We have a good rapport with them and they want to stay in contact, so that’s wonderful,” the CAO added.