SANDPOINT — Local officials enjoyed a little family bonding time last week when of John Dooley, the mayor of sister city Nelson, British Columbia, paid a visit.
Dooley arrived in Sandpoint last weekend for the first time in 15 years to meet with the current leadership and explore more opportunities to nurture the relationship between the North Idaho and Canadian communities. While in Sandpoint, Dooley and a few other Nelson residents got a taste of the local lifestyle and all the accompanying benefits.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Dooley said. “There have been a lot of changes in Sandpoint in the past 15 years, but there are still plenty of similarities between here and Nelson.”
True enough, the two communities share a lot more beyond the intercity relationship adopted last year. The town is only a little bit larger than Sandpoint and relies on many of the same industries to fuel its economy. Residents have easy access to comparable natural resources like a ski mountain and a lake, and the town has developed a reputation for attracting outdoor enthusiasts with its hiking trails, cycling opportunities, rock climbing locations and other amenities. Finally, the town itself relies on a combination of charm, artistic output and historical appeal to bring in the tourists, much like Sandpoint.
According to Dooley, those similarities provide opportunities for synergy between the two towns, giving the sister-city relationship potential to be more than just a symbolic nicety. While Dooley’s visit was partially recreational with plenty of skiing and sightseeing to be had, it was also a chance to meet with Sandpoint Mayor Marsha Ogilvie and discuss possibilities for future collaborations.
Dooley, along with his wife, Pat, and Nelson alternate director Greg Lawrence and his wife, Marilyn, arrived in Sandpoint last Sunday and spent the day skiing, touring the town and admiring the scenery. They had the opportunity to spend more time with Ogilvie and other city elected officials and staff the following day, especially over dinner that evening. Sandpoint officials plan to travel to Nelson sometime this year, possibly in the spring, and continue the conversation.
Meanwhile, the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce has been working with Nelson’s commercial authorities to develop a series of cooperative programs in business, art, industry and recreation.