Take three mayors, an RV and a week-long road trip to Niagara Falls.
No, this isn’t the plot for a campy summer Hollywood film. It’s the real-life plot of the three Tri-Cities mayors, who will be heading on a seven-day road trip to the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) meeting in Niagara Falls.
The plan is for the mayors of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody to drive across two-thirds of the country in a motor home, meeting with mayors and community leaders en route and documenting the trip along the way.
The mayors leave next Friday (May 23) for the conference, which starts on May 30. Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay sees the trip as an opportunity to see the best practices and the challenges of other municipalities in the country.
“To get out and see these towns and how Canada is working at the municipal level is super important,” he told the Tri-Cities NOW.
“When you see what they’re accomplishing in some of these cities, it’s like wow.”
The idea for the trip was conceived at last year’s FCM meeting when the mayors talked about driving to the next meeting.
When they found out FCM was in Niagara Falls in 2014, the trio decided to have some fun with their idea.
Following along the same line as the Port Moody mayor, Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore suggested cities and towns face an “enormous” range of issues and challenges — from aging infrastructure to climate change, downloading and homelessness — and he sees the trip as an opportunity to share knowledge and experience, and to compare best practices and solutions that can benefit residents.
A similar sentiment was echoed by Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, who views the trip as an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges and successes of municipalities in Canada.
“We can learn a lot from each other, so I look forward to the opportunity to speak to these mayors on their own turf,” he said.
The plan is to tackle about 650 kilometres a day for a week, stopping in 23 communities from Calgary to Kenora.
The RV is Wi-Fi enabled and will act as a mobile boardroom, allowing the mayors to tweet, blog, create videos and take photos along the way.
A website chronicling their travels is expected to be up and running by this weekend at www.townhaul.ca.
The trio will also be meeting up with CBC personality Rick Mercer on the trip.
“It’s going to be a very busy week and I suspect we won’t have a moment’s rest,” Stewart said.
There will also be no wives, family members, assistants, staff or hotel rooms on the trip — just three mayors in an RV.
Clay, Moore and Stewart say they all have different personalities, but they also get along very well.
“We will either strengthen our relationship, or we will never talk to each other again,” said Moore.
“I expect it will be the former.”
Clay jokingly admitted he’s been dealing with seasonal allergies and has been snoring like a bear recently.
The mayors say the trip will also give the three politicians plenty of time to discuss local issues.
As for the cost, the mayors are quick to point out they won’t charge taxpayers a penny. Instead, various sponsors are paying for the trip.
Clay said it was important to get the costs covered so people wouldn’t see it as a junket on the taxpayers’ dime.