Council members want more details of Mayors trip

Michael Burton, Director of Economic Development

By Greg Holden

Council had plenty of questions about the trip that Mayor Randy Hope took to China in November.

Michael Burton, the Director of Economic Development, presented his report to council last night and some members found it lacking on specifics. Councillor Marjorie Crew requested more details be sent in email. Councillor Art Stirling commented how he found more about the trip in the newspaper, saying that is where he heard of a possible Chinese University for Chatham-Kent, as reported exclusively in the CKReview. Burton joined the Mayor on the trip, as did 2 local private businessmen who covered their own costs.

Mayor Hope took notes as councillors expressed their displeasure in being kept in the dark about the excursion. Councillor Karen Herman said she expected to have updates while the trade mission was in Asia. Crew said residents were asking her about the trip and she had nothing to offer.

Council was supportive of Hope’s trade mission, no-one on council seemed to oppose the trip or the cost (over $34,000) of going. Their concern focussed on the communication gap between the members of the trade mission and council members.

Noting that some of the information was confidential, council was given the example of how London sent representatives To Asia only 2 weeks before, and to make public the talks that took place in Asia would be asking for competitors to use Chatham-Kent’s list of contacts and simply take them for themselves.

Burton underlined the frugality of the trip by saying the total cost for food, for 6 people covering a period of 2 weeks in Korea and China, was just over $1200.

Here are the costs of the trade mission:

Travel Costs $ 13,649.01

Accommodations $ 11,910.15

Meals/Entertainment/Other $ 1,222.91

Meeting Expenses $ 596.74

Consultant/Coordinator $ 5,318.47

Gifts and Receptions $ 388.38

Long Distance/Cell Phone $ 1,372.73

Total $ 34,458.39

Burton’s report said two companies in Korea are looking to invest in Chatham-Kent within one to two years and  as many as 16 companies in China are looking to invest in Chatham-Kent within tha time.

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