The “E-Ostrów 2050. A City of Ecology, Energy and Economy” project is picking up speed. The local government has approached the crucial 3rd stage (project delivery) with great precision.

An information and training meeting was organised at the Local Activity Centre on 15 December 2021. Attendees included i.a. Mayor Beata Klimek and her Deputies, Executive Director at the Association of Polish Cities Andrzej Porawski, local councillors, Project Partners and local officials.

“E-Ostrów 2050. A City of Ecology, Energy and Economy” is a project of huge importance to the development of Ostrów Wielkopolski. The city has secured a considerable amount for purposes of its delivery: EUR 3.5 million (just under PLN 16 million) from the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism for the years 2014-2021.

“We will be investing funds in a number of areas, primarily the socio-economic and environmental. The project is multifaceted, difficult and ambitious – yet complementary in nature. The training will let us draft a diagnosis for Ostrów Wielkopolski, one we intend to use to respond to our city’s essential challenges. An option to join this international project is a major success for Ostrów,” emphasised Beata Klimek, Mayor of Ostrów Wielkopolski.

Project Partners are a key component to the overall endeavour. They include the County Starosty of Ostrów Wielkopolski, Kalisz-based company Oświetlenie Uliczne i Drogowe (Street and Road Lighting), Municipal Transport Authority, and a number of associations and non-governmental organisations, for- and non-profit. Each Partner will be commissioned with the delivery of a specific task.

“We intend to use the awarded funding for purposes of training our employees, mainly local workshop technical staff. Training will primarily involve electric bus operation, including improved use, handling and safety standards,” such description was offered by Janusz Marczak, chairman of the Municipal Transport Authority in Ostrów Wielkopolski.

“The funds we were awarded are an unquestioned success. We managed to design a complementary urban development plan, in terms of investment as well as soft skills. The plan will span a number of investments we intend to begin delivering as soon as possible with the use of the Norway grant,” said Deputy Mayor Mikołaj Kostka, adding, “Essential tasks include, but are not limited to, the construction of kindergarten and nursery facilities. We intend to modernise bus stop shelters and develop green bus stops, the first ones to be set up as early as 2022. A complete parking guidance system in the paid parking zone will be a hugely innovative project, and a rarity in medium-sized cities. This particular component is worth approximately PLN 2 million, and will be completed by year-end 2023 within the approved grant framework.”

“Project delivery will continue until 2024, information and training meetings to be held until the end of January 2022, all designed to pick up project delivery and task implementation at full speed. The ‘Local Development’ Programme pursuant to which we will be implementing our Ostrów project is a completely different story from our previous deliveries,” Director of the Urban Development Department Ewa Torzyńska explained, and added, “It is different in terms of the actual implementation scheme as well as long-term outcomes. Our intent is to change our approach to the process of planning assorted endeavours, said change to primarily affect public officials. Great importance has been attached to social consultations, in order for everything planned for implementation to reflect local residents’ expectations. Making different facilities accessible for people with assorted disabilities with the use of architectonic and information-related solutions is enormously important as well.”

As emphasised by Mayor of Ostrów Wielkopolski Beata Klimek, the city received exceptionally valuable assistance from Association of Polish Cities experts, albeit – as it turns out – the partnership tangibly benefits both parties involved. “Ostrów Wielkopolski has always been a pioneer in the field of assorted local government endeavours, and owing to its Association of Polish Cities membership we can learn from its experience,” said Andrzej Porawski, Executive Director at the Association of Polish Cities.

Of the overall number of 255 cities, 212 filed applications. Over 85% of eligible entities applied for Norway Grant funds, ultimately approved i.a. for Ostrów Wielkopolski as one of the 29 grantees.

European Economic Area funds represent Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway’s contribution to the process of developing a green and competitive Europe supportive of social integration.