Nelson Mayor Dooley during the Onagawa fundraising effort.

Nelson Mayor Dooley during the Onagawa fundraising effort.

Onagawa funds earmarked by Nelson council

Money fundraised a year and a half ago to support Nelson’s sister city Onagawa will finally be put to use.

Money fundraised a year and a half ago to support Nelson’s sister city Onagawa, Japan, in the aftermath of the devastating tsunami in the country, will finally be put to use.

The $40,000 raised locally and $1,300 raised in the Esquimalt (a BC city that had hoped to also become sisters with Onagawa) will go towards the purchase of a two-ton, flatbed truck.

Wendy Lacroix, a member of the volunteer committee that coordinated the fundraising effort, said the truck was requested by people in Onagawa because it’s something tangible that will benefit whole community. The vehicle could be used for a variety of purposes, like moving temporary shelters and setting up community events. It might also come in handy for evacuations in the case of another disaster.

But most important to Lacroix and the committee members, it’s what people in Onagawa requested.

“It’s always been important to us that we spend the money on something that people in Onagawa asked for themselves,” said Lacroix, noting it took awhile for people in the country to let them know what they wanted.

“We thought it was better to wait than to send them something they don’t need.”

Other ideas were tossed around for how the money could be spent. They considered putting it into a scholarship fund, for example, but were told it wouldn’t provide broad enough benefit.

“They didn’t want something that would only help a few people, they wanted everyone to share the benefit,” said Lacroix.

At a special council meeting on Monday, Nelson councillors voted unanimously to release the funds for Onagawa from the City bank account. Lacroix hopes the truck will be delivered before the two-year anniversary of the tsunami next March.

She said there will be lettering on the side of the truck to say it was donated by Nelson and Esquimalt, and someone from Nelson will go to Onagawa to deliver it.

“This is something we’ll be remembered for in Onagawa,” said Lacroix.

“They’ll know we were here to support them when they needed it.”