Portage la Prairie is currently playing host to a visitor from the land Down Under.

Bernard Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the Gympie Regional Council in Queensland Australia, is currently visiting the city and surrounding region as a part of an exchange program between the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) and the Local Government Managers of Australia (LGMA). The program gives participants the opportunity to learn about management and daily operations in their exchange partner's country.

Portage la Prairie City Manager Nathan Peto was selected to represent CAMA and will taking a trip to Queensland in September. In the meantime, however, he has been showing Smith all Portage has to offer.

"Everything from our fantastic recreation complexes and green spaces to, of course, our budding industrial and residential sectors which are something that I think all people from Portage la Prairie should be proud to show that we're a growing and prosperous community. I didn't waste any time showing that to Bernard," says Peto. "And, of course, I was really excited to introduce him to my staff, talking about things like asset management, infrastructure; real municipal issues that translate to any culture."

He adds he's very excited to have Smith as a guest in Manitoba, especially in the city of Portage.

Smith shares his thoughts on the city.

"I'm very impressed by the major development occurring. Portage is obviously a place on the move. [Peto] has spoken of some of the terrific economic development things that are happening, which is great. It's important for a town like Portage to have a lot of confidence, to have things happening," says Smith, adding, "it's great for the city, and the region, and it must make the people of Portage feel really good about their future."

He says the exchange program has been a great experience and explains he applied because he feels it's important to get out and see how the rest of the world lives.

"If you stay in the one spot for the whole of your life you're never going to grow and you're never going to learn," says Smith. "Even though there are an enormous amount of similarities [between the two countries] it's really important to see what others are doing."

Smith notes while there are a remarkable amount of similarities between how local governments are run in both countries, the one difference that really stands out is the climate and how it affects municipal authorities. He adds 20 degrees Celsius is considered a chilly day in Queensland.

Peto says he is looking forward to the opportunity to visit Australia in the fall, noting he joined the program because he always wants to challenge himself and continuously improve and learn.