Ing. Miroslav Svozil is a VSB-TUO graduate. Throughout his career, he has served as a representative, councillor, Deputy Mayor for Finance and Economics, Mayor of the Moravian Ostrava and Přívoz Districts, and Advisor to the Minister of Industry. Currently, he operates as the Deputy Mayor of Transportation. He talked to us about his view on the development of Ostrava and the projects he supports.
A quarter of the Moravian-Silesian Region lives in Ostrava and the city is known for having an edge in addition to a strong presence. Deputy Mayor, what is your evaluation of Ostrava’s development and the recent trends in the city?
Ostrava has been experiencing dynamic changes for over 250 years, ever since coal was discovered here. From 1994, the city’s focus has been shifting away from coal and efforts to restructure our heavy industry have become popular. My local politics have always been in support of the city’s development. During this election period, I feel as though this vision of mine is finally becoming a reality as the city is undergoing great change. These new projects are often very significant, which I hope will only bolster the speed of Ostrava’s transformation. The recently reconstructed former slaughterhouse, the New Lauby project, the two new Ostrava University faculty buildings and the parking complex near Republic Square are all examples of big steps in the city’s evolution. Apart from construction projects, we have also experienced a shift in our economy. The metallurgic industry still has a strong presence, however, new industrial zones have attracted new investors from automotive, logistical, and high-tech spheres. Mošnov, the P3 agglomeration area in Vítkovice, the zone in Hrušov and the new GLP Hrušov zone are great examples of this. Not to mention that these are just the current projects; many more are being drafted and prepared, enough for the next two voting periods, at least.
‘Together we build Ostrava, a city of new beginnings!’ is the vision Ostrava aims to realise in the following years. Could you let us in on a couple details?
The fundamental pillar of Ostrava’s new vision is the effort to reverse the trend of residents leaving the city. Not everyone is moving to Prague, however, many people are moving to satellite towns outside Ostrava’s borders, which is a negative trend for many reasons. The city needs to reach a level in its provision of living standards and services where migration stops being a tempting option. That is why I support key projects such as the reconstruction of the Concert Hall, which would include a renovation of the Ostrava House of Culture and the Black Cube. Expansion of private projects is another crucial step. This would include Ostrava Tower, Organica, the reconstruction of Textilia-Ostravice, Wacslaw, Small Lauby, Vojanka, New Amsterdam, the Crossroads building, the Sitte Palace, the renovated Jindřich mine, Stodolní residence and many other projects. The support of these projects will have a domino effect. Plans for the construction of blocks of flats are not limited to the city centre; they extend to Silesian Ostrava, Ostrava South and Poruba. Recently, the proposal for an apartment district in the Žofinka brownfield was presented, as well. New housing is the bedrock of development and Ostrava ought to support prudent investors because providing high-quality living spaces at acceptable prices will give us a competitive edge over other cities.
Another one of our goals is to support the development of university science infrastructure, primarily by financing through the Fair Transformation Fund. Projects eligible for this would include the Centre for Research of Industry 4.0 Technologies at VŠB-TUO, the National Energetics centre, Project Refresh (new energy sources), CEET, and IT4Innovations. In addition, we would also like to support the development of dentistry and creative fields at Ostrava University. This would allow the two universities to offer an even wider spectrum of new fields. Oh, and one more thing: Ostrava could make do with a couple new CAS offices.
Locally and globally connecting the city is another priority of the new vision. This endeavour aims to strengthen Ostrava’s position as a regional metropolis and build connections in the context of transport, communication and information. So goes the overarching slogan for projects currently being drafted in your field of operation. What significant projects does this include?
Ostrava is part of what used to be the Amber Road. The northern connection, the Místek III. phase and the first phase of I/56 (which is another bridge across the Oder, near Petřkovice): these three key projects are necessary to complete our road infrastructure. Currently, the projects’ documentation is being drafted, and their realisation is predicted to begin in four to five years…at the earliest.
The decision to construct high-speed railways was a momentous one not only for Ostrava but for Czechia as a whole. Railway connections from Prague and Brno will both end at the Svinov station. The segment between Svinov and the main train station will receive major renovations. Finally, northern connections to Warsaw and Katowice will also terminate at Ostrava’s main train station. The local government will therefore have the task of preparing residents for these changes and arranging infrastructural development around the Svinov and main station terminals. In France, for example, new city districts are often built around these terminals. The goal is clear: cut down travel time to Brno to one hour and under two hours for Prague. The projects are presently in development and the earliest projections for their realisation are for 2027.
The Great Mošnov project will be one of national significance. This is a series of projects that include the L. Janáček Airport-Ostrava, the Mošnov Combined Transport Terminal, Ostrava’s Strategic Industrial Zone, the Mošnov logistics centre, and the Czech Army logistics centre.
As a former centre of heavy industry, Ostrava is economically transforming in favour of Industry 4.0. What is the city’s role in this transformation?
The city needs to support positive innovation. In terms of traditional industry, this includes, for example, Liberty’s new steelworks and projects like Škoda Wagon Works and Škoda Ekova. High-tech companies, start-ups, the Moravian-Silesian Innovation Centre, the Hydrogen City project and other companies that sprout from new infrastructure and fields of study at universities are a few more examples.
What are your 2030 wishes for Ostrava?
Ostrava needs to become Czechia’s centre of technology. It needs to become a city where value is created and
above-average earnings can be expected. The city centre and its fringes will be transformed beyond recognition, with new buildings and a strong cultural infrastructure that offers countless ways to spend free time. It will become an even more significant research and university hub. The number of Ostrava’s residents will once again start to rise. There are two caveats to this, however: first, development on this scale would not be possible without the Czech government. Their support has already allowed for many of the projects I mentioned earlier—Great Mošnov, the Concert Hall, the Black Cube, transportation networks, support of VŠB-TUO and Ostrava University. Second is the active participation of Ostrava’s citizenry in the realisation of these changes because, without their work and love for their city, all of these goals are high unreachable.
Thank you for the interview, Mr Svozil.