Two Sylvan Lake Town Councillors have recently returned from a peer mentorship program in Jordan.
Coun. Megan Hanson and Teresa Rilling volunteered with the Jordan Municipal Support Project where they worked helping Jordanian municipalities with strategic planning.
Through the project, Canadian and Jordanian municipal practitioners provide peer-to-peer assistance in various areas to elected officials and municipal staff.
Along with assistance in strategic planning, Hanson said volunteers also worked in the areas of waste management and gender equality.
“One thing we learned was how lucky we are to have gender equality,” Hanson said. “The men essentially ran the table.”
She continued to say it was interesting for the Jordanians to have female elected officials help them with strategic planning.
Rilling said the two, along with Rob Simonds the CAO from Colchester, NS, travelled to two different municipalities in Jordan, Aqaba and Amman, and worked with a total of five communities on the subject of strategic planning.
“I think we learned a lot from each other. This showed that we both face similar issues and it helped to build a trust,” said Rilling.
Rilling and Hanson worked with three smaller, lower income municipalities in Jordan where strategic planning was very new to them.
The two other municipalities were larger and had more to work with when it came to strategic planning.
Hanson said for the larger communities they worked with them to fine tune their plans, while the smaller communities the volunteers guided the process and introduced the idea of strategic planning.
“Some of the communities didn’t have a strategic plan in place, so one of the things we worked on was why it was important,” Hanson said.
Rilling said before work could be done on strategic planning, relationships and trust had to be built between the Jordanians and the volunteers.
“We have to work through a translator so it took some time to build that trust and for us to get used to,” Rilling said.
Hanson said one thing she took away from the experience was how everyone in Jordan was an “expert in tourism.”
She said every person she met, whether through volunteering or taking a cab to a new location, was excited to share their town with others.
“That was something I really took away, was how excited they all were to share their town with us,” said Hanson.
The Jordan Municipal Support Project is a five year project implemented by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in collaboration with Jordan’s Ministry of Local Administration.
Twelve Jordanian municipalities participated in the project, which is funded by Global Affairs Canada.