Newspaper article China Post

Shezidao Development Heading in Wrong Direction

Newspaper article China Post

Shezidao Development Heading in Wrong Direction

Article excerpt

Back in 1991, the Interior Ministry's Urban Development Committee approved a plan to transform Shezidao - a flood-prone sandbar at the confluence of the Keelung and Tamsui rivers in suburban Taipei - into a Disney-like recreational park.

Twenty-five years on, the sandbar - misrepresented as an island by its Chinese name - remains as undeveloped as ever, although the city government is gearing up efforts to transform it into an "island of ecology."

Whatever changes have been made to plans for Shezidao's future, the core idea has not changed - the least developed 800-acre area of the city must be developed, no matter what.

One of the primary arguments for developing Shezidao has been a desire to solve the area's flooding problems.

The idea of making the area into a tourist attraction has not changed over the years. Taipei City government's vision of an "island of ecology" actually means a water-themed recreational area that makes use of natural scenery to meet citizen's recreational needs.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je's eagerness to develop Shezidao is also based on a belief that doing so will ease housing pressure in downtown areas. The city government plans to almost triple the area's population from the current 11,000-plus to 32,000.

But not all citizens or Taipei officials share Ko's eagerness. At a meeting of Taipei's Urban Planning Commission (UPC) earlier this week, some of its members challenged the Shezidao development plan.

The meeting was set up to review the details of the plan, but some commission members questioned why they were discussing details of the plan when the fundamentals had yet to be clarified - namely the goal and direction of development.

With Taipei's population shrinking, the committee asked why Shezidao should be taking in more residents.

But Deputy Taipei Mayor Lin Chin-rong, who heads the UPC, was clearly angered by the challenge. He even accused one of the dissenting members of being indifferent to the future of Shezidao. …

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