From May 13th to 16th Premier Christy Clark visited Japan to reinforce the importance of both trade relations and the friendship long enjoyed between BC and Japan. While she had many high-level meetings and important trade promotion events during her stay, her announcement of the first “Canada-Tohoku Reconstruction Project” was the most demonstrative of the depth of the relationship.
The tsunami of March 11th, 2011 devastated the coast from Ibaraki to Aomori and has created a need to rebuild entire communities in many places. Together the governments of both BC and Canada along with the forest industry pledged to help in the rebuilding with a combined fund of $4.5 million. Since this initiative was announced last November by Minister Joe Oliver, BC Wood and its Canada Wood partners have reached out to the affected communities looking for projects that our industry could take up as a part of the massive reconstruction effort underway in the Tohoku Region.
The first project to be approved by the industry committee managing this humanitarian effort is the Yuriage Market in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture. Before 3/11 this was the largest fish and farmers market in Tohoku attracting about 600,000 visitors a year. The tsunami not only washed away this crucial economic driver, but also destroyed the community around it. Despite the fact that 5 of the market vendors and 10 of their family members were killed in the tsunami, the association that manages the market on behalf of the city vowed to reopen Yuriage Market as quickly as possible in order to help bring both people and commerce back to what is now a barren landscape.
The city government and local 2×4 builder Selco Home together proposed to Canada Wood to rebuild the formerly concrete market with Canadian wood as well as incorporating a Canadian atmosphere. They hope that the new unique and attractive structures will help to quickly lure back customers and tourists to boost the shattered local economy. In this way, the market will become a centerpiece of Natori City’s revival as well as a symbol of Canada and Japan’s strong friendship. Additional projects will be announced in the coming months.