The resiliency and community spirit of Grand Forks is impressing international business leaders from around the world.
How the city weathered floods and the pandemic is being highlighted for a study group from the Duke Of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Study Conference, with 18 delegates from 10 Commonwealth countries making a stop in the city Thursday for lunch, a meet-and-greet session and tours.
They were greeted by Mayor Everett Baker, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen Roly Russell and RDKB Area D director Linda Kay Wiese outside City Hall before walking to the Borscht Bowl.
The purpose of this visit was to visit communities in Canada to see how they are building themselves and in Grand Forks’ case, how it rebuilt after the historic 2018 flood, then pandemic shutdowns, said Amy Fleming, chair of the B.C. Area 2 study group.
Their initial impressions of Grand Forks and The Boundary region have been welcoming and inviting, Fleming said.
“We have met so many wonderful people who have been sharing so much about their communities,” Fleming said. “We’ve seen what work is being done to protect the environment and it’s just so beautiful.”
She added for many on the tour, this is the first trip they’ve taken to Canada. Among the delegates, she said they are impressed by the community spirit and resiliency of the people of Grand Forks.
Mayor Baker addressed the delegates at lunch talking about the history of the city and the Boundary region, focusing on the impact of the 2018 floods, the work undergone to implement prevention and mitigation, how it held up during the recent spring Freshet, and supports for the community dealing with both the flood and pandemic restrictions.
“I want the world to know that Grand Forks is a good news story,” he said. “We’ve had fires, floods and the pandemic. It would be nice to have a good summer for tourism, where we aren’t being affected by smoke.”
He also touted the benefits of small town life. In larger centres like Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria, the public rarely sees the mayor unless it’s an official event. In Grand Forks, though, he can go for his morning coffee and run errands and people see him all the time and he’s happy to chat with anyone.
The Duke of Edinburgh CSC was formed in 1956 by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Andrew, according to its website. It travels across the Commonwealth building leadership capacity among delegates in business, labour, government affairs and community relations, to form cross-cultural understanding of other countries and the communities that make them.
Currently, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne is the president Of the Duke of Edinburgh CSC.
It’s been 15 years since the conference has been held in Canada. This year, 300 delegates from across the world will be participating in two weeks of tours and study sessions in Canada.
This group is one of two touring B.C. One is in the northern half of the province. Both started in Calgary, meeting with Princess Anne before starting their tours and have been heading west.
Their next destination is Victoria and Vancouver.