Mgr. Kateřina Šebestová has been the Deputy Mayor of Ostrava since 2014. Her department covers the environment and IT. We talked not only about the transformation of the waterfront in the city centre but also about new parks and landscaping. Ostrava is simply greener and more beautiful than ever before.
Ostrava is finally showing some of its natural beauty and people say that it is thanks to so-called ‘green projects’, however, that is a very broad term. Could you tell us what is meant by ‘green project’?
It is my personal way of labelling projects that I have been working on for the past couple years. What they all have in common is their focus on changing and revitalising the overlooked areas of Ostrava—whether it’s a park or a public square that needs to be renewed in order to improve the living environment of local citizens.
The city is clearly investing in these project
For example, the long overlooked area behind the bishopric in the city centre underwent great change. Instead of remaining a run-down area, it has been turned into a beautiful park, a unique space, one that we have not seen before in Ostrava. It will be particularly eye-catching in spring when the trees sprout leaves and the orchard is filled with ripe apples. It was dubbed the Parish Garden. If you visit the Ostrava city centre today and you walk past the church of St. Wenceslas, definitely take the time to visit the Parish Garden—perhaps have a picnic on the wooden terrace or simply relax in the shade. That place really has a sort of magic to it.
The Parish Garden is truly unique. People are also excited about the new terraces by the Ostravice River.
Yes, that is something that gives me great joy. We have been working on the transformation of the Ostravice waterfront for multiple years now. We first modified a large portion of the right bank of the waterfront, from the shipyard to Sýkorův bridge. We then planted some new greenery, installed benches and special sun-beds, picnic tables and an outdoor gym by the shipyard. Even the historical Shooting Bridge pillar received a much-needed renovation. The terraces you mentioned were constructed under the Miloš Sýkora monument. Once again, they are something new for Ostrava. They attract people to sit down and relax. It is pleasant to see them being used and enjoyed.
This year, we finished renovations of the left bank of the waterfront as well, that is, the area from the Castle Bridge to the Regional Court building. Our goal was to safely separate the sidewalk for pedestrians and cyclists. We also remembered to include new trees and flower beds. What we received the most positive feedback on was the new public square in front of Dock. We extended the area to hang above the river with a glass gallery and added modern benches.
I know that other places in Ostrava have undergone or will soon undergo a transformation.
Yes, I will quickly mention the new park in Svinov, the successful revitalization of Smetanův Sad in Mariánské Hory in that regard. Just recently, a new park was constructed at U Boříka in Nová Ves. The poorly-maintained area behind the polyclinic in Hrabůvka is also scheduled for renovation, as is the area around the chateau in Zábřeh. The full list is quite extensive. One very ambitious project worth mentioning, however, is the Hulváky forest facelift, including the former aquapark and so-called ‘Venice’. Here, we are currently working on the project’s documentation.
Ostrava can also be proud of its programme for the modification of public space, according to the ideas of the public. Can you bring it closer to us?
The point is that we financially support the ideas of active people on how to improve or beautify the space where they live, where they work, where they go to school or where they just spend time. Anyone who has an interesting idea and wants to implement it can get a subsidy. During the existence of our programme, i.e. since 2017, we have supported forty-five interesting projects from individuals or associations. A beautiful example is the Hrabovjanka forest park, which was created thanks to the enthusiasm of two young ladies. From a sad place full of rubbish and clutter it is now a beautiful park with a gazebo, benches, a fireplace and a playground. If we are now interested in someone reading this article and would like to know more, they will find everything they need on the website tvorimeprostor.cz.
The city of Ostrava is now among the country’s greenest. Seeing public greenery even outside of parks is a global trend right now.
Yes, having flowers lining roads was not very popular in Ostrava. We were not afraid to make the first move, though, and replaced 6,000 square metres of ugly, neglected strips and areas in junctions with grass beds and bulbous flowers. They change colours throughout the year, depending on which species are in bloom that season. People seem to like them; I often see people stopping and taking pictures of them. In order to improve the urban climate, we are also adding greenery to tram tracks. Green tram rails not only cool the air in very hot weather but also do not produce dust and help with noise dampening.
It is possible to ride from one pleasant place to another on a shared bike. How satisfied are you with bike sharing?
When we came up with the pilot project of shared bicycles only for the centre of Ostrava in 2018, we had no idea that there would be such a huge interest in this service. We have gradually expanded bike sharing and today it is working in every city district. Currently, over 55,000 users are registered in the system. I’m really happy about that.
Ms Šebestová, thank you for the interview.