Words and Photos by the Planning Office,Translated by Cara Steenstra
Taichung city's population has reached over 1,020,000. The city is bustling with busy commercial activities and there are modern high rises everywhere; the public facilities of Taichung are pretty well developed. For the long-term development of the city, and in order for Taichung to become a Yuan-administered city, the city's facilities have been heading towards the goals of "cultural, economical and international city" during the office of Mayor Jason Hu.
Coming First Place in Foundation Facilities Demonstrates Excellent Results in City Government City Policies
For over three years, the Taichung City Government has been actively promoting the development of the Outdoor Amphitheatre, an International Standard Baseball Stadium, New City Government Center, the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House and other facilities. Through city planning reviews, latter development districts restrictions have been lifted, allowing the Stage 12 city redevelopment project to begin.
Taichung City carried out a survey on the overall competitiveness of 23 counties and citie's government policies in 2004 and 2005 through Global Views Monthly Magazine. Three years in a row, Taichung city came first in "foundation facilities" amongst 23 counties and cities. This not only demonstrates the attention that the city government pays to foundation facilities. Not only have the expenses on major facilities increased by threefold, there are also very obvious results from the last three year's developments. Taichung city's future development in the next ten years will be the core of Taiwan's development. It is only through development that a city would grow; therefore investment in this area is something that cannot wait.
The Third City Development Review Reflects the City's Development
Since coming into office, Mayor Jason Hu has been actively pushing for the third City Development Review. The review can be said to be the most transparent in years, also one that fully respects the people's views.
At present, the Stage 12 Redevelopment Project has begun. This not only resolved the problem where public facility developments have been stagnant for eight years, but it also motivated the development of properties along HuanZhong Road, providing the Central Science Park working population with an accommodation base, as well as extending the development axis along LiMing Road. When the “Ti Er” zone was allocated as a city redevelopment area, it will be redeveloped according to new regulations. This area will become the model of old city district redevelopment, and the old baseball stadium will also be renovated and extended. As for later development areas, many building restrictions have been affecting the rights of the landowners. Through active communication between the city government and the Ministry of the Interior, the area has been upgraded to an overall development area. There have been 14 separate units set up for the public to apply for redevelopment. It is estimated that 850 hectares of land will be made available for low density, high quality developments. This area will provide quality living environment that would attract people from the high tech industries to come spend money or live in Taichung city.
Taichung City Government has also been encouraging the residents of Military Dependents’ Villages to move into government housing. This would not only speed up the redevelopment of Military Dependents’ Villages, but would also help solve the problem of unsold government housing over the years. This plan is the first and most successful of its kind throughout Taiwan. One the Military Dependents' Villages have been demolished, the city government is planning to set aside some of the land as public facilities (such as parks), so as to improve the surrounding environment of the land area around the villages.
Unifying Resources, Turning Garden Boulevards into Art Galleries
A certain magazine once did a survey on “city beautification”, and Taichung city came in third out of all the counties and cities of Taiwan. This is the result of three year’s of city government work on beautifying the city through their 3-year “themed park” project. Public gardens are “live” facilities that cannot be neglected after construction. The larger the gardens, the more manpower and resources are required. Since the end of 2002, the city government began to invite businesses to bid for the maintenance of Feng Le Park. This not only reduced the amount of resources and manpower required to maintain the park, it also improved the park’s user rates and the effectiveness of the maintenance work. And the Feng Le Park example also helped Taichung city win a prize.
Since this example, the Construction Bureau has also actively sought enterprises and local communities to adopt parks and recreational areas. The best example of these would be Taichung Harbor Road’s JingGuo Boulevard that was adopted by Amro Bank. It was modified into an outdoor art gallery, adding an artistic element to the greenery.
Between 2003 and 2005, the Construction Bureau also developed the DaKeng Earthquake Park, Agricultural Ecological Parks, Extreme Sports Park, Dun Hua Park and others. In the future, with the opening of Shui Nan Airport, an 80-hectare large park is also planned for Taichung city center, which can be compared with New York's Central Park and London’s Hyde Park.
Reconstruction of Roads and Rivers, Developing a Broadband Internet City
During heavy rains and typhoons, most of Taichung’s major rovers become flooded and the banks threaten to burst, seriously affecting low lying areas and areas that are not well drained. In order to prevent disasters and lessen the effects of disasters, efforts to reconstruct rivers and roads and other improvement engineering projects cannot be delayed. Most projects are aimed at improving river flows, channeling drainage systems and rivers flow systems, removing debris, cleaning up rivers, protecting river banks and other yearly improvement projects.
The city government has also completed the set up of an information system regarding the resources and manpower related to traffic lights/ signs and rainwater drainage system management. A public management engineering information system and a GPS satellite information provision fee-paying system, as well as a rain water drainage management point, public affairs road usage management system, a unified road digging and filling control regulation system, work fund management system have all been set up.
Guidance has been given to telecommunications companies, cable companies and other broadband internet service providers to unify their broadband system set ups, encouraging them to make use of the space along the edges of the pedestrian walkways and road side to set up their common cables. This not only solves the problem of cable wires blocking water drainage and affecting the looks of the city, it also helped set up a good base for the development of a broadband Internet city.
Reallocation of Land Use Turns Stone into Gold
Land reallocation not only allows the city government to gain more land for development of public facilities, it also helps to increase the value of privately owned land. Profits made from reallocations benefit the city government so that it has more funds for larger developments, therefore it is appropriate that many describe land reallocation plans as “turning stone into gold”.
Zhong Shan Land Administration Building’s Reallocation Information Library has recently been opened for use. It contains information of Taichung city’s land reallocation from the very first stage till the recent Stage 12 projects. The information provides full details of all land reallocation projects. To a certain degree, the land reallocation history of Taichung is the equivalent of Taichung city’s metropolitan development history. Now with twelve city land reallocation projects in hand, plus the progress of the city’s development, each project would bring more prosperity and wealth to the people of Taichung.
A city that is alive is a city that will take off
Mayor Hu expressed that Taichung city is a city that is alive, and has a lot of potential for future developments, and to become an international city that is on track with the rest of the world. For the past three years, not only have there been major developments on public facilities, the city government has also been working hard at improving their services to the public. It is hoped that these improvements would help create an even better living environment for the people. Taichung city’s development simply cannot afford to be put aside. And everyone must have this kind of understanding and be mentally prepared for Taichung city to truly take off.