Inspection of Shilin project site canceled after protests

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Mar 09, 2013 - Page 3

Supporters and opponents of a controversial urban renewal project in Shilin District (士林), Taipei, yesterday engaged in heated exchanges as both sides rallied at the project site awaiting an inspection by the Taipei High Administrative Court — which was eventually canceled.

Dozens of people supporting or opposing the Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project gathered at the project site, as the Taipei High Administrative Court was to inspect the site in preparation for the demolition of the temporary housing the Wang (王) family and their supporters have built.

“The Wangs have lost the court case, the government should quickly move to tear down the illegal building on the project site, so the construction may resume and we can go home earlier,” said Hsieh Chun-chiao (謝春嬌), a representative of the 36 households who agreed to the renewal project.

Hsieh said they had agreed to take part in the urban renewal project because it was backed by the city government.

“We trusted the government, so we agreed to have our houses torn down in exchange for new housing units after the project is completed,” Hsieh said. “We’ve waited for years and we don’t know how long we will still have to wait before we can go home.”

Wang Kuang-shu (王廣樹), a member of the Wang family, disagreed, saying that there were still ongoing lawsuits concerning the project, “hence the construction should not be resumed until everything is solved.”

While the two sides insisted on their own views and had verbal exchanges, the standoff remained peaceful.

The dispute arose when the Wangs, who own two townhouses on a block included in a urban renewal project initiated by Le Young Construction Co, opposed the project and refused to have their houses torn down, while 36 other households on the block agreed to the project.

In March last year, the Taipei City Government demolished the two houses owned by the Wangs by force.

However, the Wangs and their supporters built a temporary house on the site, and the construction remains suspended as several lawsuits concerning the project are still ongoing.

The court later decided to cancel the inspection, worrying that it could trigger more intense clashes between the two sites.