Livcom Awards Day One - Category A
What the judges said: “We have seen a very high standard from the small communities. In many, while they have the intimate relationship with their residents associated with smaller towns, they also have shown evidence of a sophisticated range of techniques for determining the community’s wishes.
“One key lesson is that some small communities do not perceive the power they have in terms of influencing decisions of their larger umbrella authorities. They have the ability to represent their residents’ wishes at a higher level – one of the fundamental roles of these organisations is about leadership.
“We felt there was a very high standard from the finalists from The Czech Republic. To have three finalists out of the eight in this category was an achievement in itself and all three have been more than competitive which is very encouraging to see.”
Rob Small, New Zealand
BOLATICE, CZECH REPUBLIC: POPN 4,200
Its ability to promote a rich cultural and social life for its residents is one of the distinguishing features of Bolatice, a small village in the South Moravian region in the east of the country close to the border with Poland. With more than 25 association and groups active, almost 100 annual events take place in the village ranging from street festivals to sports events to open air Christmas carols and a “ghost day” with a fairy lamp parade. In 2000, the community created an almanac history, while several documentary films have also been made about the village which will celebrate its 760th birthday in 2010. As well as social and cultural engagement, Bolatice prides itself on involving its citizens in decision making. In 2008, the first public forum was held. More than 60 residents took part to identify the key challenges facing the community. The now annual forum is supplemented by biannual questionnaires. Local co-operation has also resulted in the development of both a strategic and an action plan that will take the community through to 2022. Great emphasis is placed on consulting with the community’s youngest members with an extra focus on helping support healthy lifestyles across the generations.
RICANY: POPN 12,000
Just 20km south east of Prague on the 50th parallel, Ricany describes itself as a “town with a countryside spirit”. In its LivCom submission, the Ricany team were keen to show their town as a good example of a functioning relationship between the artificially created and natural landscapes.
Within the Local Agenda 21, the town actively communicates with residents (round tables on selected topics, creation of a strategy and action plan, a community plan and transport study) and introduces sustainable development into everyday life using various activities and campaigns for the public (eg Earth Day, Mobility Week, Healthy Days etc).
One of the key challenges of the post-1989 Communist era has been rapid development in the environs of Prague. To cope with the demands of increased housing in the region, Ricany has spearheaded a school building project to create a new elementary school with 18 classes and 540 pupils.
To foster development of non profit organisations, Ricany has established its own grant-funding scheme which, over the past six years, has allocated almost EUR561, 000 to promote sports, culture, social and health-based projects. The grant system is based on funding from the local tax imposed on gaming machines, the municipality budget and special purpose donations.
The town’s record on recycling waste was one key element of its presentation. Thanks to close co-operation between the municipality and the non profit organisation Ekocentrum, Ricany has twice won the competition as the best recycler in Central Bohemia. As well as regular recycled waste, the municipality and Ekocentrum have started a system for collecting old batteries in schools and all municipal institutions.
The next stage is to develop a new system for recycling biological waste.
Household participation in recycling is also ahead of the game – since 2004, Ekocentrum Ricany has organised a scheme to collect aluminium from homes. This year 62 schools have participated in a competition recycling 6,000kg of aluminium – mainly in the form of yoghurt caps!
JAROMER, CZECH REPUBLIC, POPN 12,814
Although at a confluence of three rivers, a major modern road and rail junction in the North-East of the country, some 120km from Prague, Jaromer has a history dating back to the 11th century. In the 20th century, the municipal district of Josefov became an army base for successive forces. Today, however, there is no army presence but the town’s military museum is one of the city’s three museums, the other two focussing on art and sculpture and Jaromer’s railway history.
One of the city’s greatest challenges has been coping with the departure of the army, which not only reduced the population but also left many of the buildings desolate. Some of the buildings are still the property of the army and the city is searching for strategic partners to contribute to the regeneration process.
The greening of Jaromer has centred on a reforestation programme led by one individual, the city’s Forestry Director, Vaclav Nemec, whose work in creating the plantation of more than 1,000 ha of forestry land was recognised in 2008 when he became a Freeman of the city on his 80th birthday.
The city takes part in Earth Day in a major initiative which sees the city’s school children helping not only in a clean up of schools but also the wider city.
GIBSONS, CANADA: POPN 4,200
On the shore of the Pacific Ocean, the small community of Gibsons traditionally relied on fishing and forestry. Over time, the economic profile has changed and today, the area is a magnet for tourism. A key focus of the town’s activity centres on Gibson Council’s goal of incorporating and integrating the three pillars of ecological, social and economic sustainability.
Achievements include winning the “world’s best water award” at the International Water Tasting Competition - testimony to the purity of the water which is drawn from a subterranean aquifer. Gibsons’ water is so pure that it requires no additional chemical or ultraviolet treatments. To ensure the quality is maintained, the town has an Aquifer Protection Plan and subsurface mapping is underway to determine the future capacity of this natural resource.
Gibsons has a raft of policies in place to ensure the environmental sustainability of the community; backyard burning bylaws, riparian area regulations, tree cutting policies, draught management plans, pesticide bylaws, anti-vehicle idling policies. The Gibsons team highlighted just how much the need to maintain the “world’s best water” had resulted in public acceptance and a desire to ensure environmental concerns remain a priority.
Community support and involvement is a strong facet of life with a host of organisations and annual activities enjoying the outdoor based lifestyle.
One of Gibsons' biggest challenges comes from the competing desires of different sections of the population, one of which sees development as progress and wants rapid development while the other is hoping to see slower growth and maintenance of the town’s relaxed lifestyle. To balance these competing pressures, plans are in place to create an infrastructure and all capital projects are developed with a view to providing for at least 10,000 people as Gibsons grows towards its forecast 7,200 population in 2026.
SOUTHWELL, ENGLAND: POPN 6,785
This attractive and historic rural town has a rich architectural and agricultural heritage. The two elements are highlighted in the Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire’s cathedral where a stained glass window is dedicated to the Bramley apple, a variety which originated in Southwell. Now one of Britain’s best known culinary brands, Southwell marked the Bramley’s bicentenary in 2009. As well as a special apple festival, two Bramley apple heritage walks were opened in 2009.
As well as highlighting its heritage management achievements, the Southwell team pinpointed the town’s proud history of adopting and implementing innovative environmentally sensitive practices as the location of the UK’s first fully autonomous (zero net CO2 emissions) building – a four bedroom house built in 1993, heated and powered by the sun which produces its own drinking water and composts its own effluent. The designers went on to set up the Hockerton Housing Project, the UK’s first earth-sheltered, self sufficient, ecological housing development on the outskirts of Southwell. The residents of the five houses generate their own clean energy, harvest their own water and recycle waste materials without causing any pollution or carbon dioxide emissions. The houses are among the most energy efficient, purpose built homes in Europe. The Hockerton Housing Project also runs activities and education tours for many local schools.
CARLYLE, CANADA: POPN 1,257
Billed as offering a small town lifestyle with big city benefits, Carlyle’s team was keen to demonstrate the Saskatchewan town’s credentials as one of the greatest places in the world to live.
One key element of a liveable community is sustainability. With more than 100 businesses in the town, Carlyle is continuing to grow despite the recession. Growth is underpinned by a Sustainable Community Plan aimed at fostering the town’s position as a regional trading centre. In 2006, the town’s first strategic and action plan was agreed giving birth to a range of projects including; the creation of a new 90-strong housing development, development of a new water infrastructure plan including a new water source, treatment plant and pipeline, improvements to the airport and the creation of new commercial areas.
TULLN ON THE DANUBE, AUSTRIA: POPN 15,000
Described as a town in harmony with nature and culture, Tulln is at the heart of Europe in a pivotal location for the region, as well as a vital economic, cultural and leisure centre with a well-developed infrastructure. However it prides itself on its small town atmosphere with green town areas and an ecological way of life - the town was host to Europe’s first ecological garden show in 2008. The show was held in the newly opened Water Park Tulln where an ecological centre has been opened up over 12km of pathways.
Taking care of its heritage dating back to Roman times is a critical element. New building work is always preceded by archaeological digs carried out by the National Monument Agency and these are largely financed by the town council.
Looking forward, the town set out the ambitious goal of becoming energy self-sufficient. Some of the key cornerstones on the road to success for this pioneering town include; thermal insulation, advice on energy-saving measures for private households, higher energy efficiency in public buildings, promotion of solar energy photovoltaic plants, solar thermal heating and heat pumps. Buildings belonging to the municipality are built as low-energy houses or supplied by the environmentally friendly biomass heating plant where the energy is generated from wood chips. Street lighting has been changed to energy saving ball lights. This alone resulted in CO2 savings of 11 tons in 2007. The city is now looking for a suitable location for a bio-gas plant with a biogas petrol station. The community vehicle fleet has already been adapted to run on bio-diesel for which a station has been opened.
Tree care is an important theme for the town and Tulln has taken specific steps against the Leaf Minor Moth, whose damage to Horse Chestnut trees is now widespread across Europe evidenced by the “autumnal” appearance of affected trees.
Instead of simply fighting the symptoms, over the past four years, Tulln has adopted a sustainable treatment programme using special non-chemical substances to wash the leaves and applying root fertilizer to produce strong, healthy trees that are highly resistant to pollution and pests.
Given the success of the leaf minor moth project, the city has expanded its efforts to include using environmentally-friendly insecticide against the annual mosquito plague on the alluvial area of the Danube.