The Ministry of the Interior yesterday unveiled a NT$6 billion (US$202.33 million) environmental beautification program for county-governed cities, districts and townships nationwide, to boost local tourism and improve regional economies.
The six-year program is part of a series of efforts to boost local economies started in 1997, but it is the first of these to focus on environmental beautification, Construction and Planning Agency Director-General Wu Hsin-hsou (吳欣修) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.
The program would target key areas where the landscape should be improved: waterfronts, city parks, unused spaces, community areas and other designated spots, Wu said.
It also seeks to create an environment at the local level in which small businesses can thrive, he said.
The program would work at the community level to encourage collaborations between residents and community planning specialists, he said.
Its goal is to entice young people working in big cities to return to their hometowns to work and live, thus revitalizing the region, he said.
The ministry would select 20 locations to highlight for environmental beautification and link them to 20 sites identified as part of the “micro-tourism” policy the ministry unveiled on Wednesday, he said.
It is designed to make these communities, counties and cities more liveable and appealing, he said.
While past programs often subsidized the construction of parking lots or art installations, those types of projects are not the focus of this program, he said.
The new program would issue grants for projects that increase green space, incorporate ecological engineering methods at recreational facilities and highlight the special features of a district, township or city, he said.
Approved proposals would be carried out under the guidance of landscape engineers and community planners to ensure that they improve the site rather than appear “gaudy,” as many past projects have, he said.
The ministry would also prioritize smaller projects with costs less than NT$100 million, he added.
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