The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, approved on third and final reading a proposed ordinance promoting the creation, use and maintenance of healthy open public spaces in the city and other health and environment initiatives.
Under the proposed ordinance authored by Councilor Betty Lourdes F. Tabanda, it will be the policy of the city government to ensure the general health and wellbeing of all its constituents by protecting their physical and social environment, thus, it adopts several principles such as public open spaces shall be designed and developed with cognizance of the needs of all individuals, especially vulnerable population groups within the community; public open spaces shall be designed, developed and maintained so as to promote practices that maintain the environmental, social and economic needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and public open spaces shall promote environmental sustainability, conservation and green practices as well as local cultural heritage, and shall be designed, developed and maintained with the same in mind.
The ordinance aims to provide guidance on the identification, assessment, use and management of public open spaces to promote sustainability and support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of residents of the city.
Further, a task force under the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) shall be established to oversee the development of policies, review development plans and proposals, enforce local ordinances, lead communities, serve as the main liaison for partnerships, address citizens’ concerns related to the health, safety, maintenance and use of public open spaces, as well as coordinate with relevant national government agencies in carrying out roles and responsibilities with regards to the creation and maintenance of healthy, public, open spaces.
The task force shall be chaired by the City Mayor with the City Environment and Parks Management Officer serving as vice chairperson and action officer. The task force members will be the City Planning and Development Officer, City Health Services Officer, City tourism Officer, General Services Officer, Solid Waste Management Board Chairperson, Public Order and Safety Division head, City Engineering Office head, traffic and Transportation Management Division head, City Buildings and Architecture Office head, and the chairperson of the City Council Committee on Health and Sanitation, Ecology and Environmental Protection.
Other relevant offices that will compose the task force include the Baguio City Police Office, City Public Information Office, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera and City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
The ordinance tasked the City Planning and Development Office to identify existing and new spaces in the city that may be utilized and shall spearhead the creation of the development plan for the said public open spaces. Public consultations shall be held as necessary to ensure the appropriateness and inclusivity of the intervention.
The ordinance situated that all project proposals shall undergo, as applicable, a thorough review, including, but not limited to the conduct of an environmental impact assessment, pursuant to Presidential Decree (PD) 1586, health impact assessment in accordance with the Department of Health–Department of Interior and Local Government Joint Administrative Order No. 2021-0001 and the climate and disaster risk assessment pursuant to Republic Act (RA 9720 or the Climate Change Act of 2009.