Platform for the Municipal Elections of 2012
A GREEN CITY IS WITHIN REACH
In a Green Helsinki life is in easy reach. We want neighbourhood libraries, neighbourhood shops, day care centres and schools that are nearby, as well as easy access to culture and nature. Destinations are within walking or cycling distance, or accessible by local trains, buses, trams, or the Metro. We want neighbourhood democracy to allow everyone the opportunity to take part in joint decision making. We need to take care of each other.
1. Green Helsinki
Helsinki must be a forerunner in fighting climate change. The city needs to make efforts to conserve energy and favour renewable energy, and to establish and maintain a workable urban structure. Construction needs to be aimed at low energy consumption.
In 2020 20 per cent of the energy used by Helsinki will come from renewable energy sources, and in 2030 Helsinki will be a carbon-neutral city.
We want pleasant and attractive living environments. To offset the effects of a compact urban structure we need untamed and free nature nearby. Local agriculture, green roofs, and forest land reduce noise, improve air quality, and make the city a more enjoyable place to live. A conservation network needs to be established in order to preserve valuable urban forests. Helsinki needs to push for more stringent regulations and better-functioning international cooperation to revive the Baltic Sea. The city will also invest in improving and protecting the quality of its own waterways, its sea areas, the Vantaa River, and city streams.
A green Helsinki places a priority on locally-produced food, on vegetarian food, on organic produce and Fair Trade.
2. A City of Solidarity
Helsinki needs to simplify its system of unemployment compensation. The current bureaucratic jungle is not in anyone’s interest.
Health inequality needs to be reduced. Today a rich male can expect to live 13 years longer than a poor man. We can change this setup through a more equitable and fair policy. Prevention is the best and the least expensive kind of health care. The fee for visiting a municipal health centre should be abolished and other fees reduced.
We want earlier intervention when problems arise. School health care is to be expanded from basic health care to a more extensive care for pupils. The services of school psychologists are to be increased, and those with substance abuse problems will have easier access to more efficient treatment. Special attention is to be paid to the health care of the recently unemployed.
Health services are to be easily accessible and the service provided needs to be smooth and efficient.
3. Sustainable Municipal Economy and Democracy that Works
We need to be able to afford to produce high-quality basic municipal services in the future as well, and we must not impose debt on future generations. It is estimated that Helsinki will borrow about 300 million euros in 2012. During an economic slump moderate indebtedness is necessary for the securing of services, but in the future the finances of the city need to be brought back into balance.
Decision-making on large-scale urban planning, housing policy, public transport, and specialised health care needs to transcend the present municipal boundaries. The local authorities of the Helsinki region need to be joined together. Doing so would avert unnecessary competition for the best taxpayers, and prevent the region from being split into areas of high and low income. Referendums need to be used for deciding the most important issues.
We are also in favour of functioning local democracy, to prevent decision-making from moving beyond the grasp of the people, and to make sure that ideas are not lost in red tape. City residents need to have the possibility of influencing decision-making already at the preparatory stages. Unnecessary regulation needs to be dismantled and more premises need to be available for public use as a way of promoting activities based on initiatives from the residents themselves.
Residents also need to be able to influence the choice of the top leaders of the city. Helsinki deserves to have an elected mayor. Deputy mayors need to be chosen for one City Council term at a time, honouring the outcome of the elections.
To prevent conflicts of interest, information on the linkages and commitments of municipal decision-makers need to be open to public scrutiny.
4. A City for All Generations
An obstacle-free Helsinki were equality prevails is a place where everybody can enjoy life.
The elderly will be able to stay at home, with the help of public assistance, for as long as possible. Various forms of independent living with services, and different institutions of care is to be available to all who need them.
Human relationships and culture are a part of a good life as a senior citizen. Interaction between generations is to be facilitated through measures such as setting up service centres for the elderly and child day care centres in the same building, and by taking the needs of different generations into consideration in connection with new construction. Targeted cultural services are to be used to improve the quality of life of those living in institutions.
High-quality local schools and day care help fight regional inequality and marginalisation. Day care centres and schools need to have smaller groups, and each child is entitled to day care in his or her own neighbourhood. Schools, youth work, and afternoon activities need more funding – such activities save millions in the long run. School drop-outs need to be reached within a month of dropping out. An increase is needed in education openings at the secondary level.
5. Green Transport
Without functioning public transport the city would grind to a halt. We need more rails. The Jokerilinja bus line should be turned into a light rail line as quickly as possible. Public transport needs to cost less than it does now, and the age limit children’s tickets should be raised to 17.
Part of the funding for developing high-quality public transport would come from congestion charges paid by motorists during hours of peak traffic. Everyone wins when traffic runs more smoothly.
The green city has a pedestrian centre. Cycling is promoted by setting up good bike paths for all of the most important routes, and by keeping them in proper condition year-round. The aim is to double the proportion of bicycles in the traffic mix to 15 percent by 2020. Helsinki’s cycling project must be made permanent.
6. Home in Helsinki
Living in Helsinki needs to be cheaper. Those with low and medium incomes, and those who live alone, need to have the option of living in Helsinki. The city’s own housing production is to be increased, which revitalises businesses that are excessively concentrated in the hands of large companies. Helsinki needs more moderately-priced rental housing. Dwellings and adequate support services need to be arranged for the long-term homeless.
More urban construction is needed. The Länsiväylä motorway to the west of the city should be turned into a boulevard similar to Mäkelänkatu. Urban planning needs to focus primarily on walking cycling, and public transport.
Public spaces open to the public, without an obligation to buy, are an important part of a living city.
7. A City of Cultures
Helsinki is also the capital of Finnish culture, and we need both big and small producers of culture. A green Helsinki offers its residents possibilities to take part in cultural events. It offers residents the opportunity to produce culture on their own terms around the city.
Urban culture is at its best when the city gives free hands to the people and does not interfere with their activities. In a green Helsinki pop-up events flourish. City buildings need to be used in a more flexible manner – there is no point in allowing a band training facility stand idle. More temporary use of facilities is needed.
We want to keep local neighbourhood libraries even if a new and magnificent library is built in the centre of the city.
The best way to ascertain the needs of young people is to ask them themselves. The city needs to offer possibilities for activities, and a family’s lack of money must not be allowed to keep a young person from participating in cultural activities and sport, which are fundamental rights of children and young people.
The right of Swedish-speakers to all municipal services is guaranteed, and is to be developed further. In a multilingual Helsinki we offer key services also in Russian, English, and in other minority languages, such as Sami, as is needed. Efforts are needed to help immigrants integrate and learn Finnish or Swedish. Bilingual schools are also needed.
8. A More Open Helsinki
In the information society information, its distribution, and its management constitute power. For that reason decision-making on the city’s management of information and its information technology acquisitions need to be made in a democratic fashion.
Information produced by the City of Helsinki, such as statistics and maps, needs to be easily accessible by all residents. Helsinki needs to promote open data, open source code software, and open application programming interfaces.
Offices need to be where the residents are – the social media needs to be a natural part of the city’s activities. Not everything needs to be done from some central office.
9. Work as a Part of a Good Life
A green Helsinki teems with entrepreneurs, from small street-level shops to start-ups. The city is open to new ideas, and does not stifle enterprise with needless bureaucracy. Acquisitions need to be planned in such a way that even smaller companies have a realistic chance to bid for city tenders.
The City of Helsinki is Finland’s largest single employer. Priority must be placed on the well-being of the city’s employees. Active hiring is needed, and employment opportunities need to be given to both the young and the disabled. Work always needs to be profitable.