In our series of short articles, we highlight how EUROCITIES members across Europe are engaging with their citizens.
The aim of the Austrian capital’s Neighbourhood Oasis programme is to promote the multiple use of public spaces by various groups of citizens. The city encourages people to use the space in front of their houses, the hidden and unused corners in the neighbourhood, and even the streets for activities like building and using parklets (sidewalk extensions), collective gardening, practicing sports, playing games, or organising community events. The project is financed by the city of Vienna‘s municipal department 21 (MA 21) district planning and land use, and run by the Local Agenda 21 association. It is implemented in co-creation with citizens, small enterprises, associations, and schools. The budget for the project is €200,000 per year. The scheme lasts from 2015 until 2018.
Civil society actors, small companies, or schools can submit their ideas about how they want to use public spaces in a non-commercial way with actions or activities, street furniture, and parklets. A jury composed of different administrative departments selects the projects, which are then carried out. The selected project teams gain financial support of up to €4,000 and assistance from Local Agenda 21.
In 2015, 124 projects were submitted, 49 projects selected, two withdrawn, and 31 implemented. In 2016, 48 projects were realised, including 16 projects selected the previous year. Civil society is becoming increasingly interested in this programme. Counselling and the involvement of different city departments in the jury promote mutual understanding and help implementation.
This programme initiated the use of parking lots as parklets. Elsewhere, streets are temporarily closed for traffic to be used as neighbourhood activity venues. These strengthen contacts between people and promote a strong sense of community. Some of these projects also show how public spaces could be changed in the future (tactical urbanism).
On 7 March, EUROCITIES will host a mayors summit in Brussels, where European mayors together with European and national leaders will address rising populism and Euroscepticism, and will discuss further ways to engage citizens in a positive political process.
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