On the eve of the City of Victoria's 150th anniversary, Mayor Dean Fortin played host to delegates from Napier, the community's sister city in New Zealand.
Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott and other delegates visited Beacon Hill Park Wednesday morning for the planting of a maple tree in the Mayor's Grove, followed by a tour of the park.
Arnott arrived in the city on Monday, making her first official visit to Victoria. She will spend the week discussing ways the communities can promote each other through economic and cultural development.
"We're going to take a look at the whole city and understand how it works.
That's really important to us so we can take a lot of learning with us back home to Napier," she said. "We are similar in many ways.
We're both on the sea coast. Napier is a little smaller, but we have the same issues and we've already discussed many of those."
Victoria has been twinned to four sister cities. The others are Suzhou, China; Morioka, Japan, and Khabarovsk, Russia.
Arnott will take in the anniversary celebrations at Centennial Square today, which will include the official launch of a new book that traces the history of the square and city hall.
The first copy of Test of Time: The Enduring Legacy of Victoria City Hall will be presented to Fortin at a ceremonial council meeting this morning at 9: 40.
Copies of the book, prepared by Donald Luxton and the Victoria Civic Heritage Trust, will be sold for $45 during celebrations at Centennial Square.
"This is the first of its kind to be published on Victoria city hall and it includes information on the formation of the city, the building of city hall, functions of city hall, the construction of Centennial Square and the renovations and conservation of the site," said Catherine Umland, executive director of Victoria Civic Heritage Trust.
The special council meeting will open with a performance by the Sheung Wong Kung Fu Club Lion Dancers at the entrance to city hall.
That will be followed by a First Nations blanket ceremony, guest-book signing and a piped procession to council chambers.
The meeting will be followed by a 150th anniversary ceremony at Spirit Stage at 11 a.m. Lt.-Gov.
Steven Point will deliver an address, and there will be an unveiling of Canada Post's commemorative envelope.
Family entertainment in the square will start at noon and wind up at 6 p.m. Visitors can tour the city hall clock tower.
> For a historical glimpse into the day Victoria was incorporated, go to timescolonist.com to download the four pages of the British Colonist newspaper edition of Aug. 2, 1862.