Day one highlights - category B


Dubuque, Iowa, USA, popn 60,000

Known as the “Masterpiece on the Mississippi”, for its dramatic limestone riverside, LivCom’s judging panel heard how Iowa’s oldest city has shed the difficulties of its recent past to emerge as a regional success story. In the 1980s, the city experienced 23% unemployment, a mass exodus, business closures and rundown neighbourhoods. The Dubuque team pointed to strong community leadership as key to the solution with regeneration of the riverfront one of the cornerstones. Once at the centre of city life, the riverside area had suffered from environmental damage from heavy industry and a fall in property value. In the late 1990s, the Dubuque County Historical Society created America’s River project with the aim of raising $25m to regenerate the area and turn the historic Ice Harbor into museum capturing the history and environmental majesty of the Mississippi. Today the LivCom panel was told, this has been transformed into a $188m riverfront development contributed to by city, county, state, federal and private stakeholders, while contaminated brownfield sites in the area have been transformed into a mixed use district combining historic architectural features and environmentally sensitive schemes.

Annapolis, Maryland, USA, popn 37,000

The team from Annapolis staked the city’s claim to be one of the world’s most liveable cities by highlighting a strong environmental record that makes it a leader in the region. Although a densely developed waterfront city with few remaining natural areas, the life of Annapolis is intimately connected with Chesapeake Bay. More than half of the city is in the critical area, a shoreline zone specifically managed to improve water quality. Annapolis has stronger stormwater management  laws than required by the state, a new stormwater education centre and nearly 100 rain gardens throughout the city. Furthering public access to the water area is seen as critical in persuading people to assist in improving the water quality of creeks in the area and the dock area has been renovated over the past 12 months with the addition of a small craft launch area to get residents out onto the water.

The city’s Sustainable Annapolis programme was outlined to judges demonstrating the community’s commitment to achieving carbon neutral status. A scorecard charting progress is distributed annually showing how efforts to improve the tree canopy and water quality, build the green economy and increasing public education and safety are bearing fruit.

Chrudim, Czech Republic, popn 45,000

Chrudim’s submission to the LivCom finals judging panel focussed heavily on the city’s “healthy” credentials. The town’s health plan covering aspects such as the health of both young and older people, efforts to combat infectious disease, reduce the level of accidental injury, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce alcohol , drug and tobacco-related ill-health and foster a healthier living environment. Diet and dental-related education begins early in schools and the schemes such as free body weight checks and “health days” are part of the annual calendar. Crime prevention measures were outlined and tackling domestic violence was also raised as a signal of the community’s commitment to improved wellbeing. The LivCom panel heard that in 2009, help was extended to 80 victims of domestic violence. Support and counselling have also helped to reduce the impact of drug-abuse and extremist activity and feedback from residents suggests a growing positivity about safety in the town.

City of Porirua, New Zealand, popn 48,546

With 92% of its residents reporting an “extremely good” quality of life amid the stunning natural landscape of the North Island’s Porirua, but the town’s team told the LivCom panel that this alone was not enough to justify its “world class” liveable status. Instead, the competition was told that a collective approach, called the “Porirua Way” had ensured the “medium sized city with big aspirations” offered so much to its citizens. A diverse community with a different mix of cultures and ethnicity, age and socio economic backgrounds was not polarised as in some places but brought together through a collaborative approach summed up to judges as the Porirua Way. The town’s achievements have already been recognised nationally – last year’s award of the top management award in the New Zealand public sector, The Institute of Public Administration of New Zealand’s supreme award for public sector excellence for the Safer Porirua Project and an award for village planning which recognised the distinctive character and identity of communities within the town, through the New Zealand Post/Society of Local Government’s Supreme Award for Local Government Excellence, were cited as examples of success. The award-winning Village Planning programme was highlighted for its part in “revolutionising” how the council works alongside its communities by putting communities in charge of developing the vision for their neighbourhoods and then working in partnership with the council to make it happen covering all aspects from the creation of the new waterfront promenade, skateparks, the beach management plan and a community fair.  

 Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic, popn 45,000

Mlada Boleslav’s strongest association was with the car industry and Skoda but this recent industrial history does not define the town, LivCom judges heard. With a steadily increasing population, this Central Bohemian town, just 50km from Prague, is of national economic significance and plans for the future formed a significant part of the Mlada Boleslav’s “pitch” to LivCom. EU funding for an Integrated Town Development Plan will bring change to the town but this has been produced with full public involvement, the town’s team said. A major EU19,841,554 programme is underway covering refurbishment of public buildings from the town theatre to schools, playgrounds and homes. A public opinion survey was used as an example of innovative ways being used to ensure residents’ involvement. Building on its car-production fame, the town has taken a modern approach to the development of tourism. The Metal Trail draws on the links with car making and has three elements to boost cultural tourism and sightseeing. The project involves an educational trail, refurbishment of the tourism information centre and improved signage at key tourist sites.

Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, popn 51,535

Sustainability has long been at the heart of Fredericton’s approach to its challenges and future planning with the city’s Municipal Plan at its centre, the LivCom judging panel was told.   A key element of the presentation to the competition focussed on the way in which Fredericton’s planners have worked to enhance the natural and built landscape. While the average forest canopy for an eastern North American city is 21 per cent, Fredericton has approximately 68 per cent forest cover, one of the highest rates in Canada. The city plants upwards of 500 trees in streets and parks each year with the carbon sequestration ability of Fredericton’s urban forest being seen as one of the city’s key assets in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change. One example highlighted was efforts by the city to avoid deforestation due to Dutch Elm Disease – 50 years ago, the majority of trees in the city were white elms.  The Fredericton Tree Commission was formed to tackle the problem developing a management plan to protect the trees and today advising on a wide range of urban forest related issues in conjunction with a city forester, a unique position within the region.

St Cloud, Minnesota, USA, popn 64,000

St Cloud, while known as the “heart of Minnesota” values its global perspective, the delegation told LivCom’s judging panel which heard that the “world was not only represented in the faces of its residents but by innovative policies and practices balancing modern needs with environmental protection”.

The community’s success in implementing its 2003 Comprehensive Plan was highlighted with elements embedded into everyday life according to the St Cloud team.

Several examples of environmental best practice were used to illustrate St Cloud’s credentials as a world leader from the Recycled Art Project Shop, an innovative programme to make recyclable products such as wood scraps from local manufacturers available to artists to St Cloud’s composting facility in River Bluffs Regional Park where it is estimated that 6,300 cubic yards of material is disposed of a year (18,000 visits) – in turn 1,400 cubic yards is then taken back from the site and reused by residents and on city projects. The city’s efforts to develop sustainable public transport were also cited as an example of environmental best practice – with the award of Best Transit of its Size in 2007 highlighted to the LivCom panel of judges. The success stories included steps to make buses more environmentally friendly and the partnership between Metro Bus and St Cloud State University to introduce the country’s first public bus powered by recycled vegetable oil – the Husky Fried Ride, was heralded as a world beater.