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Mayor plays it up in Miami
By Paul-Mark Rendon
London mayor Dianne Haskett is hoping a little cross-border elbow-rubbing will prove productive, as she attends the Mayors' Summit of the Americas in Miami, Florida this week.
Touted as the largest gathering of its kind, the event is scheduled to host over 250 mayors from the largest cities in Latin America, Canada, the Caribbean and the United States, said Zimri Prendes, spokesperson for the summit.
Prendes explained the summit will gather mayors and administrators from cities with populations of 100,000 and over. Several top officials from within the U.S. government, including Attorney General Janet Reno, are also scheduled to attend, he said.
"They'll be talking about many issues, [including] international trade and commerce, technological innovations and public safety," he said. "It's a way of sharing the power of municipalities, who can help who and something to open up input," he said, adding the summit started yesterday and runs until tomorrow.
Prendes said the event, which is in its fifth year, began as a way for city administrators to gather, brainstorm and share their successes. He added he hoped the summit would spawn further annual discussions in other major cities across the continent. "We're hoping this will open up the door to open the event to other cities in the future."
Haskett said flaunting London's strengths was not the only thing she would be doing in Miami. "The main purpose for all of us here, is to have full discussions and communicate our challenges. Mayors in big cities are facing the same issues and this forum allows us the opportunity to hear each other out," she said.
Topics such as the financing of different urban projects, trade and commerce, as well as public safety, are particularly of interest to Lindsey Elwood, chair of the London Downtown Business Association, who said if Haskett could bring back some points to share, the LDBA would welcome her suggestions. "If something comes up that will be of benefit to the downtown, I know she'll be on top of it," Elwood said.
Ward 5 councillor Gary Williams said he hoped Haskett would make valuable business contacts on her trip to Miami. "Most of these [trips] are all about relationship building. Hopefully, she'll meet with some fine folks down there and ultimately bring business back to the city," he said.
Haskett said she supported getting the event to blossom into a gathering which would annually hop from one city to another. She added she viewed London as a future site for the conference down the road. "With London being right in the centre of the continent, it would be an ideal location for this event."