A longtime city councillor believes the 36-year sister-city relationship between Penticton and Ikeda, Japan, is worth preserving.
John Vassilaki has travelled to Japan as a city liaison previously and wants to continue in the same manner.
The Penticton-Ikeda Sister City Society wrote a letter to the city asking whether or not the city remains committed to the sister-city agreement with Ikeda.
The letter expressed concerns that exchange visits have decreased in recent years, and that some trips to and from Ikeda have been cancelled due to a lack of adequate numbers.
"We've been at it for over 30 years," said Vassilaki. "We've made a lot of friends over there - at least, I have. The mayor over there is a personal friend, and some of the city councillors and some of their elders over there."
The last time Ikeda's mayor and council visited Penticton two years ago, Vassilaki hosted a Greek-themed barbecue for the group.
"Those are the kinds of relationships that we need," he said. "The friendships and the unity that we've had all of those years, I don't think we should throw that away. I really think that we should keep it."
Aside from the relationships among mayors, councillors and society members is the relationship between high school students in both cities.
"We send a contingent of students over there, and they send one here," said Vassilaki. "I've hosted these people at City Hall . . . I put on a democratic-type thing for them . . . I had a great time with those kids, and they loved it."
If the city is committed to the agreement, the society also wants to know whether its budget contains funding to support the program, and whether a councillor will be appointed to liaise with the society.
The society wrote that visits to Ikeda have been financed by donations of sister-city members without funding from the city.
Vassilaki doesn't see the issue as funding. The city contributes a small amount of funding on an annual basis, and because the trips to Ikeda often would occur every second year, the fund had increased, he said.
Vassilaki noted that when he visited Ikeda, he paid half the portion himself; the city paid the other half.
"The city doesn't pay for the whole thing by any means," he said.
According to Vassilaki, the city hasn't had a liaison for a few years. He said the matter is going to be discussed following the byelection on Sept. 7.
He feels there's no reason for the two cities two end their relationship as long as both are willing to make it work.
"When they see over there that we are still interested and we want to continue the relationship, they'll do exactly the same thing," said Vassilaki.