February 26, 2024

With an aim to contribute to the overall well-being and sustainability of the community, the Baguio City Council has enacted an ordinance promoting the creation, use, and maintenance of healthy open spaces in the city.

An open space refers to an area of land that is not extensively developed or built upon, and it is typically characterized by the absence of structures like buildings or permanent infrastructure. Open spaces can take various forms and serve different purposes, contributing to the well-being of communities and the environment.

The creation of open spaces shall promote equity and inclusivity, addressing the needs of all individuals, especially vulnerable population groups within the community.

These open spaces shall be accessible to all individuals regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.

Furthermore, these open spaces shall be designed to promote practices that maintain the environmental, social, and economic needs of the citizens, as well as promote environmental sustainability, conservation, and green practices, as well as local cultural heritage.

According to the ordinance, the creation of public spaces shall comply with the following minimum standards:  open and accessible; child, elderly, PWD, and pet-friendly; safe spaces for all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and sex characteristics; free from smoke, vape, drugs, and alcohol; promotive of s handwashing and sanitation; eco-friendly, sustainable, and non-polluting; climate and disaster resilient; promotive of local culture, arts, heritage, creativity, and biodiversity; promotive of opportunities for physical activities, social interaction, and exposure to nature; and well managed and maintained.

A task force under the City Environment and Parks Management Office shall be established to oversee the development of policies; review development plans and proposals; serve as the main liaison for partnerships, address citizen concerns related to health, safety, maintenance, and use of open spaces; and coordinate with concerned offices and agencies in carrying out roles concerning the creation and maintenance of open spaces.

The city shall use endemic species of plants and trees as identified by Cepmo and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to maintain or restore the natural biodiversity in an area designated as an open space.

The Health Promotion Unit of the City Health Services Office shall provide health-promoting activities, materials, and equipment in public open spaces and engage in active communication with the community regarding the importance of physical activities and other healthy behaviors. – Jordan G. Habbiling