Cities / Global
Animal welfare in Montréal, Munich reaches for the sky, tourism in Slovenia that’s the bee’s knees and Warsaw city councillor Jan Spiewak has his say.
Slovenia — Tourism
Urban beekeeping has become a trend for green-fingered city dwellers but in Ljubljana, hives aren’t just for hipster honey and pollinating city gardens. Slovenia has eight hives per square kilometre tended by almost 10,000 beekeepers and, this year, it persuaded the UN to declare an annual “World Bee Day” on 20 May.
That devotion has given flight to a potentially lucrative idea in the capital: “api-tourism”, whereby bee fanatics in search of a buzz book a holiday to Ljubljana to see for themselves. “Our research found that nature and greenery are the main motivators for people to come and visit,” says Masa Puklavec of the Slovenian Tourist Board. Hence, bees are “very interesting and appealing to our market”.
Capitalising on the trend, Ljubljana’s Hotel Park has employed a beekeeper for four wooden hives on its roof; the bees provide honey for the hotel’s desserts and ice creams. Meanwhile, other city spas offer services such as honey massages and venom apitherapy.
Tips for an urban apiary:
01 Make sure it's legal. Not every city or district allows the sudden arrival of 60,00 noisy residents.
02 Prepare for spring. This is when bees decide to find new homes: check that your hives are in good order and that your protective clothing is up to scratch.
03 Do it for the honey, not for the planet. City hives aren't saving the bee population and the honey bee is just one species that humans rely on to pollinate plants.
For years, a summer stroll along the cobblestoned streets of Montréal’s old city has been accompanied by the clip-clopping sound of horses pulling tourist-filled carriages. But calèches, as they are known, will soon be phased out. This summer, Montréal’s city council approved a bill banning the carriages. The reason? Equine wellbeing: the horses work long hours in the scorching summer heat and inhale harmful exhaust fumes from the surrounding traffic. The ban comes into effect on 31 December 2019. Animal-rights campaigners will be champing at the bit until then.
Sky’s the limit
Munich’s transport system is good at getting people in and out of the city centre but runs into problems when it comes to ferrying people around the peripheries. Travelling just 4.5km between Oberwiesenfeld and Studentenstadt stations in the north of the city requires going into the centre to change lines and travel back out again.
Now Bavaria’s capital is hoping to connect these two points with a cable-car service; the city is putting together a feasibility study, with the planning phase kicking off next year. It is estimated that, when completed, the gondola could send 4,000 people per hour between the two stations. Let’s hope the idea gives residents a lift.
As Poland gears up for mayoral elections this autumn, Jan Spiewak has his sights trained on Warsaw. The 31-year-old urban activist and councillor heads the Free City Warsaw association, which aims to create a city “free from distortions, pathology and corruption”. While these terms seem lofty, his real ambition is simple enough: he imagines a Warsaw that works for residents, not just for developers and investors.
MONOCLE Why did you decide to run for mayor?
JAN SPIEWAK: I want to create an alternative to Poland’s two main parties in the capital, and for Warsaw to better represent its inhabitants. It should be a just city that develops in line with residents’ needs, rather than those of developers or other interest groups. It isn’t capital that makes a city, it’s people.
M: What obstacles prevent Warsaw’s citizens from achieving a high quality of life?
JS: For a lot of Poles from around the country it is easier [financially] to emigrate than to move to Warsaw. The city also owns swathes of land that could be used to ease the burden of high rental prices. We should use this land to build 50,000 affordable flats for rent in the next 10 years. Before the Second World War, Warsaw used to be called the “Paris of the east”. Now, with plans to build even more skyscrapers, I don’t want us to become the Dubai of the north.
M: How would you like to see the city develop?
JS: Most squares in Warsaw are used as carparks; we should be using them as places where people can mingle. A good example of where this is already being done is the recently renovated embankment along the River Vistula.
M: What can other cities learn from Warsaw?
JS: It’s an open city with a spirit of entrepreneurship that draws bright people. After the Second World War, the city was rebuilt by its inhabitants. This is a positive story that Warsaw’s urban identity can be built on.