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Monday 19.02.2018 | Name days: Zane, Zuzanna

Riga residents get new apartments, but Ventspils residents get Lembergs' signature nothing?

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Aivars Lembergs

Thanks to a well thought though long-term program for development of the city’s residential fund, Riga residents have been receiving at least several hundred new apartments in the last several years. On that note, it should be asked why the “owner” of Ventspils is not bothered by building new homes in the city, notes non-party official of Ventspils City Council Vladislav Shafransky.

With reference to publications in mass media, the official notes that the Rīgas pilsētbūvnieks company has recently signed an agreement for the issue of a credit worth 10.4 million LVL in order to finish the construction of municipal residential homes in Bolderaja. The project itself will cost nearly 13 million LVL. It will provide 299 new apartments.

“Of course, the scales of both cities cannot be compared to one another, and the problem of the lack of apartments is always more troublesome in large cities than it is in their smaller neighbours, but, I believe, we cannot deny the obvious: Ventspils needs more municipal housing. But the current city management has done nothing to resolve this problem,” – he notes.

Shafransky explained that the municipality is obligated by law to provide housing to: (1) those waiting in queues, (2) individuals with special needs that have reached mature age, as well as those leaving orphanages (3), families/individuals with the status of low income, individuals released from prison (4), etc. The municipal housing fund is also required to provide housing for individuals that live in highly hazardous areas (ecologically speaking) and areas that are needed for the city to develop and create industries vital for the city and its residents.

“Unreasonable city planning has led to what we have now: industrial buildings, supermarkets and residential homes all stand side by side together. As a result we have such cases of collision of interests like the refusal of the City Council to allow the expansion of the grain terminal, all because the residents of the house located on Dzirnavu 34, allegedly, unanimously stood against it.”

The house is undoubtedly “in the epicentre of ecological problems”, and even though I fully understand and support the wish of the residents not to allow the worsening of ecology and the view out the windows, I cannot agree with the fact that a specific port terminal is being refused because the city council chooses not to carry out construction of new residential homes. All this even though the activists of the Dzirnavu 34 house have confirmed the residents’ agreement to relocate,” – said Shafranskis.

He noted that the city council is reporting about new industrial projects, loose millions, and holds impressive amounts of money on accounts of municipal enterprises, spends tens of thousands of LVL on fireworks and giant cows made of flowers, uses millions from European funds, and not a singe cent of all this goes invested into the construction of new residential homes. “There are no plans for the future as well! Strange, isn’t it? The city council is the body responsible for creating balance between the city’s economic development and comfortable living of its residents!,” – the official said.

According to him, the problem of residents’ of Dzintaru 34 (and that of other people living in close vicinity to industrial compounds) should be eternal, unsolvable, always boiling on a slow fire. The “owner” of the city benefits from a large number of people complaining about ecology: this collective anger can always be organized and set loose on a “specific” scapegoat that naively thought to expand his business, pay salaries and taxes without paying much attention to “local” rules and the “owner’s” interests.

But there is one small problem, says Shafransky. Using the emotions and feelings of people, putting them up against your opponents can be of use. But such methods should be used with care. Otherwise, you risk getting yourself into an unpleasant situation when, having successfully burried the plans of expansion of some far too “independent” terminal, you then have to come up with arguments why other, no less damaging production plants should be developed on the same spot even considering the catastrophic state of the local ecology and negative attitude of the residents living there.

“But the “owner” is not a novice in getting in complicated situations and emerging successful from them. So, if tomorrow we need to resolve a matter of building some highly important industrial object somewhere near Dzintaru Street, this talented manager will find the right arguments – as long as houses like Dzintaru 34 are always available. Always there, ready and waiting to be used to protect any position of his! But what about new housing? “Excuse me, who are you talking to?”

Are Ventspils residents really prepared to watch how Riga residents happily receive their new apartments and remain silent just because it is in the interest of the “owner”? I am certain that, no. I am certain that they have earned apartments for themselves more so than officials who wait for orders from their “master,” – concludes Shafransky.

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