Residents of large cities are increasingly convinced, often in a vivid and painful way, how much mental well-being depends on the quality of the space we live in. Scientists researching the quality of life in European cities make us aware that a development model based solely on economic growth indeed leads to the enrichment of society, but this does not mean that it becomes happier – writes Charles Montgomery in the book „Happy City.” The charismatic Mayor of Bogota, Enrique Penalosa, told the author of the mentioned book that „we may not be able to make everyone as rich as Americans. However, we can design the city to give people a sense of dignity and allow them to feel richer. The same city can make them feel happier.” Sustainable development of cities has been discussed in local government circles for many years. There is no municipality that would not declare such a development model. In practice, however, it is not easy to achieve. It requires significant determination from the authorities and acceptance from society. Sustainable development of local government involves balancing the decisions of municipal bodies, taking into account many factors, including environmental, social, educational, and economic factors. The goal of sustainable development is to strive for positive qualitative and quantitative changes while respecting the values of the natural environment and the principle of social equality. Managing the municipality of Pobiedziska, which includes 25 lakes (with 3 within the city limits), three landscape parks, four nature reserves, and architectural heritage in the old part of the town with a very interesting history, it is also necessary to consider eco-development, related to respecting the values of the natural environment and carefully shaping the spatial order. Finding the right relationship between humans and nature affects the quality of life of people and the environment. An important element in realizing such an idea is the participation of residents in planning processes and actions for environmental protection. An excellent example of such cooperation is a petition written by the youth in 2019, signed by 376 students. Young residents requested the creation of a park – a meeting place. I invited the youth for a walk around the city, and together we determined the location of the proposed investment. As a result, the large „Green-Blue Pobiedziska” project was created, funded by Norwegian funds. The project consists of the Toddler Park, a promenade over the Small Lake, and the City Park. One of the more important places in the city is the market square. After the bypass was opened, the municipality will proceed to revitalize the market square, where greenery will also play a very important role. When writing about sustainable development in the city, one cannot omit spatial management. As I mentioned in the introduction, it affects the quality of life of residents and is an extremely important factor in development. Currently, a very important task is to adopt the study of conditions and directions for spatial management. The study currently being prepared contains a lot of information for residents. It designates areas for residential development, areas for service and manufacturing activities. The document shows areas designated for photovoltaic, biogas plants, and areas for hospitality services with geothermal pools over Lake Biezdruchowo. This is an opportunity to utilize the existing geothermal water deposit.

Sustainable development of the municipality is very important to us, which we consider when preparing areas for single-family and multi-family construction. There is no development of the municipality without building new homes and an increasing number of residents. Construction is an important factor in development, but in local plans, we pay attention to the percentage of construction and technical infrastructure. We are moving away from building apartment blocks in favor of urban villas, which contain several apartments. This is intended to influence the urban character and climate of the city. Maintaining well-understood small-town qualities is extremely important. The increasing number of residents brings an increased demand for places in nurseries, preschools, and schools. Currently, every child in the municipality is guaranteed a place in a nursery and preschool, which is undoubtedly a significant achievement. Schools are not only well-maintained but also achieve educational success. In Jerzykowo, for several years, students have been able to attend bilingual classes, where chemistry, history, physics, and art are taught in English. To implement the principle of sustainable development in education, it is necessary to build a new school in Pobiedziska for children learning in primary classes. Public transport is also an important element of sustainable development. Despite multimillion expenditures on municipal communication and subsidies for rail transport, this direction is considered appropriate. In the near future, an increase in the prices of new cars is expected, traveling by one’s own means of transport will become more expensive, which will result in more frequent use of public transportation. Therefore, supporting the development of rail infrastructure by the municipality seems purposeful. Sustainable development also means creating conditions and a climate for entrepreneurship. There is no development of the municipality without the development of business, so preparing investment areas and providing technical infrastructure is very important.

Besides the mentioned forests and landscape parks, the lakes are a significant capital of the municipality. Among the 25 lakes, the local government owns only the Small Lake. After years of neglect, the areas around the water body will soon be restored to the residents. The municipality has applied to the Provincial Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Poznań for funding for the project called: „Improving the living conditions of the ichthyofauna of the Small Lake in Pobiedziska.” The goal of the project is to increase the well-being of the ichthyofauna inhabiting the Small Lake in Pobiedziska by carrying out actions aimed at preventing the blooming of waters and cyanobacteria, removing the excess of plankton-eating fish, increasing the population of predatory fish, and increasing the biodiversity of the Small Lake by planting native submerged vegetation. As a result of the work carried out, the biodiversity in the lake will be increased, and the correct environmental conditions within the lake and its immediate surroundings will be restored. The Kowalskie Reservoir is an important water body.

In recent years, the water level in it has been alarmingly dropping, and the so-called fish kills occurred, resulting in fish deaths. Thanks to the efforts of the municipality and good cooperation with the Regional Water Management Authority in Poznań, the task of determining the trophic and ecological state of the Kowalskie Reservoir along with assessing the main causes of its pollution and indicating improvements in water quality in the reservoir and its catchment area was included in the „Program for the implementation of tasks related to the maintenance of waters and other state-owned property related to water management” for 2024. Additionally, the Polish Waters expressed their willingness to sign an agreement with the municipality of Pobiedziska, concerning cooperation in the implementation of water management tasks in the catchment area of the Kowalskie Reservoir. These are important steps for improving the situation in the Reservoir. Another important task in the coming years will be issues related to the energy transition. Considering the effects of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the assumptions of the European Union’s policy on renewable energy sources (RES), and rising electricity and gas prices, the municipality is preparing to build its own photovoltaic farm with a capacity of up to 2 MW. Having such an installation will provide its own electricity for street lighting and all schools and municipal institutions. If ultimately schools, kindergartens, libraries, sports halls, the municipal utility, the office, Social Welfare Center, Sports Center, and Pobiedziska Cultural Center are equipped with heat pumps, it will not only have a positive effect on the climate but will also save several million złotys annually in the municipality’s budget. When writing about rational energy management, it is worth mentioning that the municipality of Pobiedziska urgently needs to build a transfer station for municipal waste. To reduce the cost of waste collection from residents, such an investment seems necessary. In the effort to reduce costs, it is necessary to build a biogas plant, where green waste, collected in several thousand tons annually, can be processed. Culture and sports are important aspects of sustainable development. Tasks from both mentioned areas are implemented by the Pobiedziska Sports and Recreation Center, Pobiedziska Cultural Center, and the Public Library. Numerous non-governmental organizations play a large part in implementing tasks related to sports and culture. Active participation in sports activities, cultural events, and concerts indicates that residents expect such activities. According to the Central Statistical Office, over three-quarters of the residents of smaller cities and villages declare that culture is important or very important to them. Therefore, if smaller centers want to retain residents and attract new ones, they must offer easy access to culture, preferably at a level comparable to metropolises. In summary, the development of housing, a constantly growing number of residents, business development, technical infrastructure, access to nurseries, preschools, and schools, competitiveness in education, ecological education, care for the natural environment, access to health services, supporting non-governmental organizations, activating seniors, supporting the rehabilitation of disabled persons, a good cultural offer, creating conditions for practicing various sports disciplines, development of public transport, and supporting volunteerism are important elements of sustainable development of the municipality and a recipe for a better climate for living.

Mayor of the City and Municipality of Pobiedziska
Ireneusz Antkowiak

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