GREENWICH — Members of the Atlantic Mayors’ Congress have endorsed a motion to work on an action plan on the issue of Atlantica, a trade and marketing zone involving New England, Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

The congress, representing the largest municipalities in the region, wraps up a three-day session hosted by the Municipality of Kings County in Greenwich today.

The motion passed Friday morning is that the congress will “further examine the concept and purpose of Atlantica and the activities of the individual municipalities” and that it will establish a subcommittee of mayors within the congress and members of the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce.

The subcommittee will prepare an “Atlantica action plan,” to be discussed at the next mayors’ congress meeting in Halifax and then at the Reaching Atlantica conference in 2007.

In discussions on the motion, Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto said municipalities throughout the region “all stand a chance of benefiting from such an organization.”

Saint John Mayor Norm MacFarlane said asset mapping is important for such a trade corridor to succeed, so that trading partners know what is available outside the larger municipalities. “You really need to know where all the products are. It’s got to be more than a road.”

Guest speaker Neville Gilfoy, president of Progress Communications Corp. and a member of a working group developing the Atlantica notion, said the corridor “is just conduits for communities to connect” and concerns more than just trade.

“Fredericton doesn’t get a lot of containers; they want visitors,” he said.

There were 50,000 visitors to the city for a recent jazz and blues festival, Mr. Gilfoy said. “This is worth more than tankers and ships with containers on them.”

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly, the congress chairman, said members generally favour the Atlantica concept but want to ensure they “work with the business community to fully understand and co-operate in implementing the strategy.”

The congress was organized in 2001 with the goal of promoting economic development, infrastructure funding and tourism in the Atlantic region.

Members represent municipalities in Atlantic Canada with at least 20,000 residents. Smaller municipalities are represented through provincial-municipal organizations such as the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.

( ifairclough@herald.ca <>)