It was a whirlwind trip for Port Alberni Mayor John Douglas who spent five days in China earlier this month.
Douglas was invited by the Alberni Valley school district to promote the Valley as an ideal place for young students to learn English and complete their schooling. The mayor said his visit went well and he expects more international students coming through School District 70’s doors.
“I met with seven students who will be coming in August,” Douglas said. “I anticipate higher numbers, 20 to 30 in the following year.
Douglas, along with representatives from the school district and privately owned Vancouver Island Schools made presentations in various cities and met with parents looking to send their children abroad. Some of the cities he visited ranged in population from one million to 14 million. Douglas also met with various politicians.
“The mayor of Huangshi said I was the first mayor from Canada to come visit,” Douglas said, adding that these meetings also allowed him to discuss potential economic partnerships.
Douglas also had an unexpected meeting with officials at the B.C. Trades and Investment office in Beijing, which he believes will lead to something bigger for the community.
“It was the most important meeting to us economically,” Douglas explained.
“I had an hour meeting with the regional manager and a couple of others and I invited them to come visit Port Alberni the next time they are in B.C.”
The trade office is mandated by the provincial government to help bring investment to B.C. One representative will be making a visit in June and the head of the Beijing office is expected to visit later this year.
Douglas said economic development manager Pat Deakin has since had a 90-minute conversation with the Beijing trade and investment office about Port Alberni’s desire to become B.C.’s third port and to become an LNG facility.