A four-person delegation from the Vietnamese city of Ha Tinh City was seated in the audience of Langley Township council for the opening of the evening meeting on Monday, July 22.
Mayor Jack Froese read an official greeting, pausing every two or three sentences to allow the translator to relay his remarks.
“There is so much to see and experience in the Township of Langley and we are pleased to share our knowledge and our successes,” the mayor said.
Froese said the Vietnamese officials would be visiting local farms, meeting with local education and business leaders and exploring the manufacturing and film industries during their stay, looking for ideas that can be applied back home.
The delegation included three men and one woman; Tran The Dung, chairman of the Ha Tinh City People’s Committee, Le Ngoc Chau, the vice-secretary of the Ha Tinh City Communist Party, Pham Hung Cuong, head of the Ha Tinh City department of planning and finance and Ms. Pham Thi Kim Anh, a lecturer from Ha Tinh University and the interpreter.
They applauded politely when the mayor was done speaking, then posed for pictures with council members before leaving the chamber.
It was the second study tour by a delegation from the Vietnamese city under an international program funded by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian International Development Agency that uses Canadian expertise to assist the Association of Cities of Vietnam.
Langley and Ha Tinh City were paired two years ago.
The Vietnamese city is a community of 91,000 people in Ha Tinh, one of Vietnam’s poorest provinces, located in the northern part of central Vietnam, about 340 kilometres south of Hanoi.
The province has 1.2 million residents with an average annual household income of $1,500 to $1,800.
The weather conditions there have been described as harsh, with very cold winters and very hot summers, as well as floods and storms in the fall.
A city staff report last year said the aim of the Langley-Ha Tinh City exchange is to help create a development plan “that will capitalize on the unique advantages and assets of the local community [in Ha Tinh City] within the Vietnam national context.”
One potential Ha Tinh City asset could be a nearby beach that once housed a tourist resort built by the French during their occupation of Vietnam.
Much of Thien Cam Beach, located 20 kilometres from Ha Tinh City, was destroyed during the subsequent wars, but it continues to draw foreign visitors.
The beach includes the historic Yen Lac Pagoda, which houses a famous set of paintings called “the King of Hell’s Ten Palaces.”