A review meeting would be held to discuss how to improve the annual Tshing Shan Festival, which received many noise pollution complaints, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday.
The festival, held by the Qingshan Temple (青山宮) in Wanhua District (萬華), is one of the three biggest temple festivals in Taipei and ran from Friday through Sunday.
The Taipei City Police Department’s Wanhua Precinct said that the event attracted more than 100,000 participants from Friday to Sunday.
The precinct said that it received 666 reports made through the 110 police hotline, and 959 traffic violations were recorded during the three-day event.
The Taipei City Department of Environmental Protection said that it received 509 complaints, mostly about noise pollution caused by firecrackers and loudspeakers, while a few were about air pollution.
After expressing the temple’s apologies to Taipei residents, Bangka Qingshan Temple secretary Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏) yesterday said this year marks the festival’s 165th anniversary and the parade was the largest in its history.
However, as many people complained about the noise from firecrackers at night, improvements would certainly be made next year, Chen said.
Asked for comment, Ko said that the city’s hotline indeed received many complaints from Wanhua residents over the past three days and some even left comments complaining about the noise on his Facebook page.
He said maintaining a balance between religious and folk culture and environmental protection is a big challenge, so he has asked Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) to gather the event organizers, local borough wardens and associated groups to hold a meeting on how to improve the event.
Asked if the city government would impose fines on the event organizers, Ko said that they would not be fined, but the city government would announce solutions for coming events after the review meeting.
In other news, Minglun Social Housing (明倫社會住宅), in Taipei’s Datong District (大同) on Nov. 25 said that it would be open for rent and is to begin accepting applications from tomorrow.
There has been wide discussion about whether the NT$40,500 rent for a three-bedroom apartment was too high for social housing units.
Ko on Wednesday sparked further controversy when he said that “we do not want all of social housing to be filled with poor people,” when explaining why there was a wide range of rent rates at Minglun Social Housing.
Asked about a rumor that Ko had insisted that the city’s social housing pay for itself 100 percent, he yesterday said he is a practical government official who insists on fiscal discipline and not leaving debt for future generations, so he asked the Department of Urban Development to take full responsibility for the profits and losses at social housing complexes, and the Department of Social Welfare to deal with how much rent subsidy it should provide.
If the cost of a social housing unit is NT$40,000 per month, but the rent is set at only NT$20,000, then the remaining NT$20,000 would have to be paid by the city government, and it would be a big problem if there are a large number of units, he said.
If people are unhappy with the rent rates, the central government should set national standards for social housing rents, he added.
Additional reporting by CNA
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