CITY – Youth say to ‘no’ to development, rising immigrant population & unemployed could sweep streets

The monthly City Column focusses on the latest news and developments in Copenhagen

10 years on from Ungdomshuset’s demolition, activists oppose new development
“Nothing is forgotten – Nothing is forgiven”. Members of the far-left community marched through Copenhagen on March 1 carrying a banner bearing the slogan to mark the ten-year anniversary of their eviction from their former youth house, Ungdomshuset, which was subsequently demolished.

The community had unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the building, which they had squatted since the 1980s. Public sympathy for the community at losing their home under unfair circumstances was diminished by the damage caused in the riots that broke out following the building’s demolition.

Although the municipality provided them with a new site in the Nordvest district, they have forcefully opposed any new development on the plot of land at Jagtvej 69, where the original building stood. Their objection extends to the latest proposal by Vendepunktet to use the land for a container ‘village’ for the city’s homeless. The eight container apartments can be shared by up to 16 people, and offer a common cooking area, health care and social activities.

Despite the project’s potential for positive social impact, activists from the anarchist community oppose the temporary facilities.

“It stinks of being a project that uses the pretext of helping at-risk city youth as a handy precursor to commercial development at Jagtvej 69,” they write in a press release.

They add that it is suspicious that the homeless housing project is scheduled to end just as the nearby Metro construction site at Nørrebro’s Runddel is completed, which will make the land even more valuable. The protesters are adamant that the Jagtvej 69 property should be a free and open space for all.

A quarter of Copenhageners now immigrants or descendants of immigrants
The non-Danish population in Copenhagen continues to grow. According to the latest figures from Statistics Denmark, 24 percent of the city’s residents are now either immigrants or descendants of immigrants. The national average is 13 percent. Around 33 percent of immigrants and their descendants in Copenhagen are of Western descent, while the remainder are of non-Western descent.

Let them have brooms
Cecilie Lonning-Skovgaard wants Copenhagen’s unemployed to clean the streets. As the leading candidate for the Liberal Party (Venstre) in November’s upcoming municipal elections, she argues that 500 of the city’s welfare recipients could help tackle the city’s trash problems.

“We have a resource of labour that we could use,” she told Berlingske. “I believe it is a healthy principle that you have to contribute in order to receive the unemployment benefits our society provides, and therefore we think that in this way we can kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, we will be able to see how willing to work those receiving benefits really are when we ask them to pitch in, and at the same time we will get help cleaning the city for everyone’s enjoyment.”

Climate leadership group opens office in Copenhagen
A coalition of 90 of the world’s largest cities, the C40, have opened an office in Copenhagen to coordinate their fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change. Located in the new BLOXHUB district near Frederiksholms Canal, the office will run the network’s global Business, Economy and Innovation programme, which will support “greater cooperation between C40 cities and the private sector [in order to] help to overcome one of the major barriers to mayors delivering on their ambitious climate change agendas.”

Copenhagen is too small to qualify for formal membership – C40 cities must have at least three million residents – but it earned a spot in the club nevertheless due to its successes in developing green urban solutions.

“Mayors around the world look to Copenhagen’s solutions for inspiration in developing their cities, and it will become a major showcase for green Danish businesses,” said Copenhagen’s mayor Frank Jensen. The Social Democrat is responsible for the city’s ambitious climate plan, which expects to see the city become climate neutral by 2025.

Being a leader has its obligations, however. Speaking to Politiken, economist Philipp Rode is cautious. “The role of a pioneer and international leader is a big commitment. It becomes much harder to be evasive when the really tough decisions need to be made.”

Rode adds that one of the requirements for being a sustainable and environmental city is reducing car traffic, which is only possible if the city implements congestion pricing. Former Social Democrat PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt promised to introduce congestion fees after winning the 2011 election, only to be blocked in parliament. M


By Johanna Sveinsdottir

Johanna Sveinsdottir Editorial intern. Originally from Iceland, Johanna has a masters in English with a focus on linguistics and language psychology.

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