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Completing his 6th year in office, Tainan Mayor William Lai says no adversity will stop the city government pressing on with policies to keep Tainan advancing

 

On December 22, Tainan Mayor William Lai held a press conference in the Yonghua Civic Center to mark the 6th anniversary of his inauguration as mayor. Addressing the assembled journalists, the mayor reported to all citizens on the stage-by-stage achievements under his administration’s four main policy goals of developing Tainan into a cultural capital, a low-carbon city, a smart city, and a tourism paradise, and his “people first” governance vision.
 
Reflecting on the dengue fever epidemic and the February 6 earthquake that had made this a tough year for Tainan, the mayor stressed that the city government’s planning and development work had not been halted by these or any other adversities. Besides the support from the central government, it was the way in which all sections of society stood together with the city government that enabled them to overcome all kinds of misfortunes. Indeed, it could be said that their bones had gained strength from having been broken, and their endeavors had yielded abundant and excellent results. In the new year ahead, the city government team would press on with the utmost effort to carry out every part of the city’s development agenda, to make sure that Tainan would keep on advancing.
 
Speaking about stage-by-stage results in the pursuit of the four main policy goals, Mayor Lai began by describing the progress in securing Tainan’s status as a cultural capital. He stated that Tainan was on the verge of attaining a 60-year aspiration in the cultural realm, with the Tainan Museum of Fine Arts scheduled for completion and commencement of use in 2018 after the budget for an NT$803 million central government subsidy had gone into place. Also, work had already been contracted out for construction of the new Tainan Public Library, in which the city government was investing NT$1.82 billion, and the building was scheduled to be ready for use in 2018. In addition, the mayor expressed particular gratitude to President Tsai for the idea she put forth, while visiting Tainan in her election campaign, of establishing a southern branch of the National Central Library there. The city government had already pressed the central government to put this idea into effect, and had selected suitable choices of site for it in the Sinying District. Tainan might look forward to the prospect of possessing a national-class library and becoming a city of literature.
 
In recent years, the city government had made plans for five large cultural parks. These included the Sinhua Tavocan Cultural Park and the Tapani Incident Memorial Park, which had already been successively completed and opened to the public. They also included Taiwan’s only fossil park, the Zuozhen Tsailiao Fossil Park, scheduled to open in December 2018. The design competition for another of the parks, Chihkan Cultural Park, was concluded in 2016, with work set to commence in 2018 and scheduled for completion in 2020. This park would be a new zone of culture integrated into life, able to manifest the spirit of Tainan as a city built upon culture. And the Shueijiaoshe Cultural Park, for which the city government had provided a construction budget of NT$250 million, would become a new recreation space combining craftwork with urban living. The whole of this park was scheduled to be ready for opening at the end of 2018.
 
Work had already commenced on the project to build a hill park waterway museum, featuring both natural ecology and historical culture. With a grant of NT$123 million from the Ministry of Culture and economic funding of NT$310 million, this project was scheduled for completion in April 2018. Also, the Municipal Cultural Center’s Taijiang Cultural Center, a NT$410 million project for environmental, educational, artistic and cultural displays and performances, was due for completion in October 2018. As these important cultural constructions reached completion one after the other, they would underpin Tainan’s stature as ancient cultural capital and a city bedded in culture.
 
Mayor Lai expressed the view that, while ancient culture was of course tremendously important to Tainan as a cultural capital, new advances of civilization were also very important to the city. Among these, development as a “low-carbon” city occupied a key place. The bedrock of the city government’s physical construction projects in this sphere was the Shanhai Zhen (“Mountain-to-Sea Canal”) Greenway. This bicycle path between the National Museum of Taiwan History and Chimei Museum was due to be finished in 2017. 
 
In the last few years, the city government had successively completed more than 50 parks, with a total area of 67 hectares. It had also launched the project for land readjustment of the Pingshih Barracks site, where the construction of Pingshih Park, which would act as urban lungs for the city’s East District, was scheduled to be completed in 2017. The project to relocate the Army Missile and Artillery School and redevelop its site would create the city’s biggest park, with an area of 15 hectares, and should speed up the development of Yongkang District.  Contract award for the park’s construction was set for 2019, while the school’s relocation should also be completed in the same year.
 
Mayor Lai also mentioned that many members of the public had responded to the issue of relocating Nanshan Cemetery. But this was a knotty matter, since apart from the various difficulties of moving an historic cemetery that was hundreds of years old, the cost of doing so would be astronomical. Therefore, if it was not possible to do the whole thing at one time, the city government would start by opening parks close to where people were living. At present, they were planning this for an area totalling 1.84 hectares, and next year and the year after they would open five small parks. This would cost NT$465 million, and would improve the quality of life of residents of the South District.
 
The mayor then remarked that the Zhu Stream was a watercourse worthy of everybody’s dreams. The city government had been planning the stream’s improvement for many years, and expected to complete the first stage of the riverbank park project in 2018, at a projected cost of NT$840 million. This included landscaping on both banks of the river and a clean-up improvement of its water quality. Because of the stream’s relatively extensive bounds, a comparatively long time was needed to carry out the improvements, and to turn it into a green oasis within the city.
 
Mayor Lai said that the development of a city was not just what could be seen on the surface, but that underground works were also very important for creating a high-quality living environment. Therefore, the city government was stepping up sewerage installation, and expected to have connected 116,000 households to the sewer system by the end of the year, an increase of 62,000 households since the merger of Tainan city and county. With this ongoing work projected to take the number of connected households up to and above the 140,000 mark, it was delivering a significant boost to the quality of life in Tainan.
 
The mayor went on to express the hope that, in 2020, Tainan would gain the distinction of having no severely polluted river sections. This was also his pledge to the citizens of Tainan. Citing the results of the management of the Erren River as an example, he said that eel fry had now appeared at the mouth of the river, as the fruit of efforts over the last several years. The city government’s clean-up projects had improved the water quality, and in conjunction with vigilant checks, heavy fines, and total quantity controls, and through public participation and water patrols, the prevention of seawater pollution, and strengthened emergency response, the effects of management had become increasingly evident in recent years.
 
In regard to a green animal husbandry friendly environment, the Bureau of Agriculture had carried out a plan for “fertile fields and clean water, to turn drops of water into gold,” encouraging  farmers to turn the wastewater from animal husbandry into a fertilizing resource for putting back into farmland. This served the goals of achieving sustainable farming and reducing the load on rivers. It had resulted in a BOD-lowering annual reduction of some 77.54 million metric tons of waste discharged into water bodies, the best such result in the whole of Taiwan.
 
Speaking about green energy, Mayor Lai said that Tainan was blessed with abundant sunlight, and had complete renewable-energy industry clusters. The city government would continue its drive to establish Tainan as a solar city, in concert with the central government’s two-year solar power promotion plan. Having attained the target of annually generating 220 MW of solar power, equivalent to the hydropower generation of Cengwen Reservoir, the city government would keep up its effort to increase solar power generation, with the expectation of adding the equivalent of another Cengwen Reservoir within two years, by the end of 2018.
 
The mayor said that Tainan’s residents were extremely concerned about the problem of air pollution and PM2.5 levels. Although Tainan’s air quality still needed to be improved, the city government’s effort to improve it was already second to none in Taiwan. One future means toward this end would be restricting the use of two-stroke scooters, through a three-year three-stage subsidy scheme aimed at reducing their emission of pollution by 90%.  The number of two-stroke scooters on the road would be reduced from 200,000 in 2013 to just 10,000 in 2020. Plans would also be made for the establishment of Clean Air Zones in six locations.
 
At the same time, carbon management measures would be put into effect in the city, with related carbon reduction targets being set. Mayor Lai pointed out that Tainan was the only city in Tainan that obtained third party carbon verification. It also had the most carbon-labeled products of any city in Taiwan. It had launched an initiative to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and was the first in Taiwan to achieve carbon-neutral school campuses. The city government had set the target of reducing carbon emissions by 5.67 million metric tons from 2016 to 2020. It was aiming to pass the ISO 37120 standard for certification as a sustainable development city, and in 2017 would start to carry out indicator data validation. It would also comply with the Paris Agreement, and achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDSGs), to progress toward becoming a sustainable city.
 
In regard to the policy goal of becoming a “smart city,” Mayor Lai stressed that Tainan was currently developing this in six main areas, namely the application of smart technologies for real-time disaster prevention in water management, for community health, for a smart municipal operations center, for across-the-board smart transportation, for open mobile learning, and for smart travel and living. Tainan had already been ranked as one of the world’s top 11 smart cities, and would push to secure a place in the ICF’s Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2017. The city government had begun incorporating 4G into all kinds of living services, successively launching applications for smart school campuses, smart transportation, smart safety monitoring, smart community health, smart low-carbon T-bikes, smart travel, and smart flood prevention, as well as in sci-tech disease prevention, to create a model 4G city.
 
Furthermore, Tainan was preparing to set up a Smart Transportation Center, due to be completed in July 2018. It was also applying science and technology in the fight against mosquito-borne disease, creating smart city sci-tech disease prevention capabilities, and establishing a disease-prevention city network laboratory. Mayor Lai specially thanked the team from National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) for their assistance not only in developing a smartphone app for reporting mosquito bites, to help the authorities locate and eradicate mosquitoes, but also in collaborating with MediaTek to develop a smart mosquito trap. Each trap had an IoT effect, and acted as a sensor. The city government could rely on this as a means to immediately ascertain mosquito numbers, for assessing whether or not to activate disease prevention mechanisms.
 
Mayor Lai remarked that Tainan was the first city in the world to implement such method of fighting mosquito-borne disease. It epitomized the truth of the saying that bones grew stronger from having been broken. The dengue fever epidemic had inspired the NCKU research team and Tainan’s enterprise sector to create something that not only benefited Tainan and Taiwan, but that in the future could also be beneficial to international disease prevention.
 
On the policy goal of making Tainan into a “tourism paradise,” Mayor Lai reported that, since the county-city merger, not only had there been a growth of 3.96 million in tourist visits to the city, but the number of international-standard hotels in the city had risen to more than ten. Furthermore, the bidding process for operating canal cruises had been successfully completed, and cruises would be launched from Anping Fishing Port in early 2017. Within half a year, canal cruises would go to the Star Diamond Canal Park, and within one year they would go all the way around a 10-kilometer circuit. In addition, work would be undertaken in 2016 to improve Tainan’s canal environs, to establish this recreational attraction as a feature of the city’s image.
 
Next year, Tainan would hold the Yuguang Island Environmental Arts Festival for the first time, restoring the island’s fine natural ecology and its residents’ dwelling environment. Also, the Bureau of Culture had secured Tainan’s hosting of the 2017 Taiwan Design Expo, which was expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors. This would serve not only to elevate Tainan’s influence in the cultural and creative domain, but should also display its vitality in creative design, and develop its potential for design tourism.
 
Mayor Lai also mentioned that demolition of the Chinatown shopping and entertainment complex was completed in 2016, and work on the Star Diamond Canal Park would begin in 2017. After the work of remaking the Chinatown Plaza landscape was finished, it would create a new landmark in the city. In the future, the putting of an artistic face on the Haian Road art boulevard and the Suehiro Cho project would together help coalesce the cultural and creative industry, shaping a long line of cultural and creative enterprises to form the cultural economy of Haian Road.
 
Besides speaking about his administration’s four main policy goals, Mayor Lai also referred to his “people first” governance vision. Tainan had already accumulated many years of energy in long-term care, and was number one in Taiwan under “version 1.0” of the central government’s long-term care program. The city would also actively respond to the various challenges that “version 2.0” of the long-term care program would face. It would comply with the central government’s 10-Year Long-Term Care Plan 2.0, building a caring, distinctive, cooperative long-term care system, and would put this into effect in near-term, mid-term and long-term stages, with the near-term stage for building resources and setting up the system in 2016, the mid-term stage for completing preparation of delivery procedures in 2017, and the long-term stage for comprehensive implementation in 2018.
 
The mayor stated that, since revenue from the house tax would increase next year, the city government would budget to use it for bringing preschool services into the sphere of public provision. This would include the establishment of 14 new kindergartens attached to public schools, achieving a ratio of 4:6 between public and private kindergartens, and increasing subsidies for preschoolers to attend private kindergartens, raising these from NT$10,000 to NT$30,000 per year. It was projected that around 22,000 preschoolers would benefit from these measures. The mayor hoped that this would achieve the purposes of caring for the disadvantaged and balancing urban-rural development, as well as providing high-quality, affordable preschool services.
 
Regarding the relocation of Tainan Veterans’ Home, Mayor Lai said that the city government had already begun to carry this out, and could use the medical resources of the nearby Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital Tainan Branch in doing so. This would serve the dual purposes of advancing the comprehensive urban development of the East District while providing medical support for the Tainan Veteran’s Home. Also, contracting out for the Yonghua National Sports Center had been completed successfully, and would provide city residents with a high-quality, affordable sports environment.
 
Mayor Lai emphasized that measures taken in recent years to solve the problem of flood-prone areas had raised the citywide river system protection rate to 70%. In the future, the Siwei Dahu flood detention and retention zone would be constructed, with a total area of 43.5 hectares and a flood storage capacity of 1.63 million tonnes, to become the second line of defense of Tainan City’s flood control.
 
The mayor said that all of the city’s infrastructure projects, old and new and of every kind, were launched one after another to spur on Tainan’s ascent. Among them, transportation infrastructure projects had an especially great impact on city residents’ lives and livelihoods.  He pointed out that the city government’s construction of the Zengwen River Bridge would connect up Tainan’s freeway and expressway network, making up a grid of three traffic arteries on a north-south axis and three on an east-west axis. This would create a one-hour living circle, in which it would take no more than an hour to drive between any two points in Tainan. The city government would continue to perfect this with the successive launch of projects to enhance the metropolitan area’s network of outer link roads.
 
Additionally, to create a fast and convenient traffic network in response to the rapid development of Annan and Yongkang Districts, the city government had succeeded in securing approval of a project for the construction of a road connecting to the Yongkang Interchange of National Freeway No. 1. This would join together the Annan and Yongkang District road systems, relieve the traffic bottleneck on the Yongkang Interchange, and connect with National Highway No. 8. 
 
Other current road projects included the westward extension of Taijiang Boulevard, which would be finished and open to traffic along its whole length in January 2017; the Tainan Metropolitan Area northern outer ring road, commencing construction in June 2017 and due for completion in January 2018; and the living circle roads in the north-of-the-river and south-of-the-river districts, scheduled for completion at the end of 2018. The second-phase follow-up construction of the road beneath the HSR Shalun Station viaduct connecting the Southern Taiwan Science Park and Shalun was due to be completed in March 2017.
 
Mayor Lai also formally announced that work would begin next year on moving Tainan’s railway underground. He said that much effort had been made in the past to ensure that the work could definitely begin next year, and that the city government was not only pressing ahead with getting the railway in the old capital moved underground, but now would also be getting the railway’s grade separation extended northward. They had opted for a project by which the line would be put underground in Yongkang District, be elevated in Sinshih District, and be on the surface in Shanhua District. The feasibility study had already been completed and submitted to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for review, with final approval set to be secured in 2017. Among the four main transfer stations, Sinying Transfer Station would be built by the city government itself under an OT development model, and was projected to be completed and put into use in October 2018; the Rende, Heshun and Kaiyuan Transfer Stations would be built as BOT projects, for which the bidding process was currently under way.
 
The final piece needed for the completion of Tainan’s public transport was the construction of an advanced transit system. Plans were being made for this to consist of 12 lines, with a total length of 200 kilometers, and expected to be developed in three stages. A feasibility report for the two-line first stage had already been completed, and had been submitted to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for review on October 5 this year, with central approval set to be secured in 2017.
     
Mayor Lai also particularly explained that the NT$2.002 billion budget for the Tainan Convention and Exhibition Center had been approved by the Executive Yuan in August 2016, and construction would commence in December 2017. Since the land at Shalun belonged to the Special Industrial Zone of the HSR, land expropriation would not be a problem. The location had very good transport facilities, and the project would be beneficial to linking Taiwan internationally. Its situation not far from National Cheng Kung University, National Chiao Tung University College of Photonics, the southern branch of Academia Sinica, the MOEA’s Metal Industries Research and Development Center, the Southern Taiwan Science Park, various industrial parks, and so on, would enable it to effectively combine the research capabilities of industry, academia and research institutions. 
 
And since Tainan City Government was actively investing in power generation from renewable energy sources, and ranked top of the nation in solar power generation, the Executive Yuan had approved it as the location for the development of a Green Energy Science City, so that it was set to become Taiwan’s main stronghold for renewable energy technologies.
 
The planning and design of the southern branch of Academia Sinica would be carried out in 2017, and construction would begin in 2018, with a budget of NT$3.463 billion. There would also be active planning of an international film base in Shalun. And with the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Baseball Village, an East Asian version of Williamsport (the birthplace of Little League Baseball in the U.S.) was gradually shaping into reality. The Little League Baseball Stadium was scheduled to be finished in November 2017, while the main and secondary baseball stadiums were projected to get under construction in July 2017 and be completed in April 2019.  Other projects soon to be getting underway were the Orchid Seeding Trade Services Center and the Sinhua fruit and vegetable market relocation.
 
Looking forward to 2017, the city government would be holding a series of events to celebrate the 100th birthday of the lungs of the city, Tainan Park.  At the same time, the city government would undertake various works to actively enhance the park, including carrying out soil improvement and footpath renovation, conducting an investigative survey of the city wall at the Great North Gate, optimizing the habitat of the old tree area, and creating a scenic area of flowering trees.
 
2017 would also be the 70th anniversary of the 228 massacre that took place in 1947 and the 30th anniversary of the launch of the peace and justice redress movement in 1987. The city government would bring together people from the spheres of education, culture and history, for an expansive range of 228 70th anniversary memorial events, including an exhibition of art, photographs and poetry relating to Tainan victims such as Tang De-Jhang and Wang Yu-lin. 
 
Also, in concert with central government policy, Tainan City would plan the establishment of a New Southward Policy Promotion Committee, to substantively promote the city’s various southward policies, and enable Tainan to gain greater international competitiveness.