Petr Rys: We bet on the maximum involvement of people in strategic planning
Interview with Ing. Petr Rys, Mayor of Bruntál, Czechia
- čtvrtek 01. říjen 2020 11:30
- Aseniya Dimitrova
Ing. Petr Rys has been the mayor of Bruntál since 2010. In this interview, he speaks about how the Moravian-Silesian town developed over this period; about sustainable mobility, citizen involvement in decision-making and more.
Ing. Rys, would you present the town of Bruntál to our audience? Which are your favourite places?
Bruntál is one of the oldest cities in the Czech Republic. It is officially “the oldest city with municipal rights in the Lands of the Czech Crown”. The first mention of Bruntál – after it had acquired city rights – comes from the period around 1213. So Bruntál is a city of long and rich history.
Our city is also very interesting from a natural point of view. Our slogan is "The city between the mountains and the water", emphasizing our fantastic location between the Jeseníky Mountains and the large dam – Slezská Harta.
I have many favourite places in and around Bruntál, but I would like to invite all readers of TheMayor.EU to Uhlířský vrch, which is a magical location on the outskirts of the city, full of natural, historical and spiritual attractions.
You have been the mayor of the town for a decade now. Please tell us how it changed over the years. What do you consider to be the greatest achievements of your governance?
The main question is how the lives of our people have improved. How they perceive it. I believe it has been for the better. During this period, we have invested tens of millions of Euros in infrastructure, housing and public spaces, but also in the development of education, cultural and sports opportunities.
However, I consider a significant reduction of unemployment to be the greatest success of recent years, although, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, we will certainly face great challenges in the near future.
What are the biggest projects lying ahead?
One of the most important projects is definitely the Bruntál bypass. I will be happy if it is established in the first half of this decade. This will complete the efforts lasting more than forty years. Project preparation is already at an advanced stage.
Like most of Europe, tourism in Bruntál came to a complete halt for a while. What measures has the municipality taken to address the problem and to assist the local entrepreneurs in these difficult times?
We try to help them in several ways. On the one hand, aid comes in the form of helping with rent payments, but it's also, for example, marketing, where we try to be a good and attractive destination.
We want everyone to benefit from it. I believe that this is going well and that many tourists have chosen our region as their holiday destination this year.
As of recently, it is possible to rent e-bikes from the municipality, a new cycling path has been inaugurated, electric boats transport tourists along the river. The town of Bruntál seems to be embarking on the path of environmental friendliness. Would you tell us more about this?
As I said, we are proud of our clean environment, therefore we actively support the greening of the environment and transport. Yes, a large-capacity electric boat is available to visitors of Slezská Harta dam.
The ship has already carried more than ten thousand passengers. The interest is really great, as is the growing interest in cycling, including e-bikes.
We try to adapt to this trend: here are first charging stations for e-bikes and, of course, also for electric cars. I would like to see new eco-powered buses in the near future in Bruntál and, especially, the electrification of the Olomouc–Opava railway line, which is very important for us.
At the very start of the coronavirus pandemic, the town also launched a participatory initiative: its civic budget. Please tell us a little more about the kind of proposals you received, and which were the winning ones.
Yes, people have expressed great interest in the civic budget. They have already submitted two projects - a new public transport station and a new workout sports ground. After an online ballot, the latter idea won out in the end.
The municipality guarantees that it will support projects in the civic budget in the amount of 0.5 million Czech crowns. We will follow the same way in the coming years.
What are your thoughts on the portal TheMayor.EU, which aims to stimulate the local governments to exchange innovative solutions to the challenges of the day and gives them the platform to do this? How can the portal be useful to your administration?
I consider TheMayor.EU portal to be very interesting and beneficial. Of course, we try to look for inspiration abroad, whether it is a public administration or investment in interesting and promising projects.
We exchange experiences with our partner cities in Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Italy and Lithuania, last year I saw examples of good practice in Finland.
However, especially in the current conditions where we need to look for alternatives to physical traveling, portals like TheMayor.EU are an excellent way to exchange information. Thanks for that.
Is there a good practice from your town that you would like to recommend to the other mayors in the European Union?
Rather than specific innovations and solutions, I will present an approach to the development of the city. Strategic planning is now common in municipalities, but we bet on the maximum involvement of people – the citizens of Bruntál – in the creation of the strategic documents.
Using opinion polls and working groups, we involved literally hundreds of citizens from school age to the seniors. We involved all social groups as well as residents of all localities of the city.
Also, at the political level, we have reached the maximum consensus to make our strategy "politically resistant", sustainable and feasible in the long term. For the first time, our citizens have been so massively involved in strategic planning. I firmly believe that this is the right way.
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