Special Reports

Citizens help to shape shared goal for Joburg's parks

Comment: Chris Vondo

Public participation and political will underscore the city's parks department's continued success

A view of the Johannesburg skyline from the Melville koppies. (Heather Mason)

COMMENT

Chris Vondo

The City of Johannesburg has experienced several highlights during the 2011/12 financial year. A significant milestone in the 2011/12 financial year was the enactment of the growth and development strategy (GDS).

This 30-year strategic plan towards the Joburg we aspire to live in by 2040 was developed following an outreach process to build a collective and shared vision for the future of Johannesburg.

The Joburg 2040 vision is a culmination of extensive engagements with thousands of the city's citizens that have helped shape our shared goal of a Joburg that offers: • An improved quality of life and development-driven resilience to benefit all its citizens; • To provide a resilient, liveable and sustainable urban environment; • An inclusive, job-intensive, resilient and competitive economy; and • A high performing metropolitan government that proactively contributes to and builds a sustainable socially inclusive and locally integrated, globally competitive Gauteng City Region. Central to the strategy were the following fundamental principles: • Eradicate poverty; • Build and grow an inclusive economy; • Develop sustainable human settlements; • Ensure resource security and environmental sustainability • Achieve social inclusion through support and enablement, and • Promote good governance.

As a member of the mayoral committee for community development, I regard the GDS as the blueprint to which all decisions made in my portfolio will be aligned.

Johannesburg City Parks has aligned its projects in the 2012/13 business plan to the sub-programmes of the human and social development cluster, which in turn is aligned to the master programmes of the GDS.

The 2012/13 financial year business plan forms part of the beginning of a new mayoral term, which commenced in the 2011/12 financial year and ends in 2015/16.

City Parks has started to focus its activities towards achieving the outcomes in the strategy. These include food gardens at Kanana Primary School in Midrand, the extension and re-naming of the Petros Molefe Eco-Park, the installation of green outdoor gyms in various parks in the city, and the development of the Rose Street Stimulation Park in Lenasia.

The commitment of City Parks to serve the community is illustrated in the acceleration of service delivery through their blitz programmes in the various regions. In the new 2012/13 financial year, City Parks will continue to fast track the execution of the GDS mandate to positively impact on the quality of life of residents.

The projects will include: • The development of food gardens and planting of fruit trees; • Environmental education to contain bylaw contraventions and build civic ownership; • The rollout of additional free-to-use outdoor gyms; and • The development of public open spaces.

City Parks and the Johannesburg Zoo are currently engaged in a merger to combine resources as part of the institutional review process. This process is aimed at streamlining services, reducing duplication and enhancing service outputs to reduce operational costs.

More importantly, City Parks and the Zoo will strive to provide residents with the best possible outdoor experience on offer, in the City of Joburg.

Joburg plants 200 000 trees, wins Arbor Award

The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries has recognised the greening efforts of Joburg and its City Parks entity, handing it the 2012 Arbor City Award.

City Parks has planted over 200 000 trees since 2010.

The award was handed out by the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in Kimberley to mark National Arbor Day on September 1.

The member of the Joburg mayoral committee for community development, Chris Vondo, was on hand to receive the award.

"The Arbor City Award is the highest acknowledgement of greening in the country," he said.

The city's greening strategies were underpinned by the Joburg 2040 vision to build a green, liveable, resilient and economically viable powerhouse to enhance the quality of life of all its residents. Vondo paid tribute to Johannesburg City Parks, green-conscious businesses, the media, non-givernmental organisations and the residents of Joburg, who have supported the green call to action.

He accepted the award on behalf of these "committed and passionate individuals and the birds, bees and trees who have no voice".

He also committed the city to continuing its quest to explore new innovations, to diligently interrogate the developmental agenda, to aggressively work towards bridging the green divide and to consistently strive to build a citizenry that takes pride and ownership of its environment.

City Parks, as custodians of greening in Johannesburg, has, through planting over 200 000 trees since 2010, transformed landfill sites into world-class parks, developed over 42 community food gardens, beautified key arterials, is accelerating its rollout of green outdoor gyms and is planting 7 000 fruit trees this financial year.

"The Arbor City 2012 Award salutes a decade of cutting-edge service excellence in greening by the City of Joburg and Johannesburg City Parks," Vondo said.

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