November 26, 2022

Addressing the threats of a looming urban decay will remain among the priorities of the city government under the leadership of reelected Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

In his inaugural address on June 30, Magalong said his administration will remain steadfast in arresting urban decay, a concern which he said has already started 20 years ago.

“We are now living beyond the natural carrying capacity of our environment and that urban decay is already being manifested in most parts of the city starting two decades ago. We have to come to terms now of difficult realities and decisions that will require all of us to adjust and to change the usual way of doing things,” Magalong said.

Citing the various findings of a group that conducted a study on Baguio’s urban carrying capacity in 2019, Magalong said urban decay will be irreversible if nothing is done to address the problem.

Among other things, he said Baguio has already breached the carrying capacity threshold of its urban road area in 1988.

“The standard allocation of 40 square meters per person is now at 20 sqm.,” he said, adding open spaces has started diminishing since 2008 and land development in the city had been reduced significantly starting in 2010.

Magalong also cited the diminishing area of two critical forest reservations – the Busol Watershed whose area went down from 82 hectares to 45 hectares and the Buyog Watershed whose area was reduced from 19 hectares to seven hectares.

Aside from land woes, Magalong said Baguio is facing a huge problem on solid waste collection as the city exceeded its 52,000-metric ton capacity and now generates 95,000 metric tons costing the city government P133 million per year to haul its wastes to a sanitary landfill to Tarlac.

The city’s liquid waste management is also challenged by the fact that the city’s sewer treatment plant is operating beyond its 8,500 cubic meters per day capacity.

“We are currently developing ways and strategies in overcoming and mitigating these urban challenges, but we need each and everyone’s cooperation. The challenge is not to just reverse urban decay but to root out the causes, implement immediate and strategic solutions and eventually put us on track toward the better Baguio we long for,” Magalong said.

To recall, the city government started enforcing strict zoning rules at the start of year despite the backlash it received from business owners and residents who faced delays in the processing of their business permits.

The strict implementation of the zoning ordinances is one of the means the city can ensure that businesses operate based on their respective zones. – Jane B. Cadalig