Mayor Maja Tait has returned from her trip to Cambodia and a renewed appreciation of the fact that as much as Sooke and the Mondulkiri Province are worlds apart geographically there is truth in the contention that commonalities will always exist.
“Take the downloading from central governments for example,” said Tait.
“In Cambodia, the (national) government has made motorcycle helmets mandatory but have left it to the local governments to decide how to enforce that law. There are some similarities between that and the way our federal government has legalized recreational marijuana but we have to spend staff time trying to develop a policy on how to implement that.”
Tait said that, in some cases, the challenges sound very familiar.
In Mondulkiri Province, the local farmers are urging the local government to establish a permanent location for their farmers’ market.
“We’re trying to do the very same thing in Sooke,” observed Tait.
Other local governments are trying to see how they fall in terms of the climate debate and what they can do to react to some of the impacts of climate change. It’s an issue that Sooke council has discussed and will continue to consider, said Tait.
So far as what Tait managed to offer in return, she recounted how there was a great deal of interest in the fact that Sooke council has more women than men and that she has managed to win four elections.
“In Cambodia, it’s still very difficult for women and there was a lot of interest in how to attract and maintain the interest of women in local politics,” said Tait.
Overall, Tait has no doubt that the trip was a worthwhile expenditure for the Union of B.C. Municipalities, the organization that funded the journey.
“Any time you see another part of the world you broaden your understanding. We live in a very privileged life here, and this trip helped to remind me of that fact,” said Tait.
“When you share practices and build relationships, it broadens perspective and understanding and brings all of us closer together as people.”