The Malta Independent 19 April 2021, Monday

TMID Editorial: Ta’ Qali - Is that what you call a ‘park’?

Thursday, 1 April 2021, 09:32 Last update: about 18 days ago

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg last week unveiled visuals for what he described as a “national park” in Ta’ Qali.

The problem is that the plans, which have been approved by the Planning Authority, look more like Borg’s nearby Central Link project than what one would expect the ‘Malta National Park’ to look like.

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What the minister described as a ‘park’ is nothing more than a barren open-air concert area and what looks like a flyover running around it’s periphery.

Instead of grass, trees and areas where families can sit down to enjoy a picnic, Borg will give us wide concrete paths and a concrete walkway propped up on concrete pillars.

The minister unveiled these visuals in a Facebook post and, unsurprisingly, the post was met with a barrage of negative criticism by people who expected something more akin to London’s Hyde Park when Borg had first told us the government would be doubling the size of Ta’ Qali’s green area.

The ‘open-air’ concert area, many pointed out, will be barren, without a single tree to provide shade in the middle. As such, it will be unusable during the hot summer months.

The ugly watchtower-like structures that will be placed at the corners which, together with a number of buildings that resemble WW2 concrete bunkers, give the area the resemblance of a concentration camp.

The path surrounding it is not exactly aesthetically pleasing either. It looks like a three-lane road with some benches and what looks like a jogging track on the side. Even the benches will be made out of concrete.

Everything Borg touches, it seems, turns to cement. This is not nature. It is another concrete jungle for the benefit of a few contractors.

It is an established fact that Malta lacks green spaces. Most of the countryside is either privately owned or closed off during certain times due to hunting and trapping. Buildings are getting higher and uglier, and the need for proper green recreational areas has never been felt so much. The government had, with much pomp and hype some years ago, announced that the popular Ta’ Qali picnic area would be more than doubled in size. Yet this will not be the case. What we’re getting instead is another urbanised area that is not what we need and want.

As Żebbuġ councillor and activist Steve Zammit Lupi aptly put it: “People in Malta are craving for a large central open area where the culmination of the area is dominated by soiled pathways full of wild grass and canopy trees. That’s all. Is it too much to ask for?”

We cannot understand why such a project was entrusted to the infrastructure minister in the first place. Ideally, it should have fallen under the environment ministry, which is less keen on concrete and metal than Ian Borg is. Giving this project to the minister who is constantly under fire for turning Malta into one big highway just doesn’t make sense.

 

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