June 20, 2024

The project that sparked protests and awakened every Baguio citizen’s aspiration of saving its remaining pine trees will soon be opened to the public.
Notwithstanding the controversy that the project generated, SM City Baguio, on Friday, announced opening of its five-story parking building by Oct. 23.
Entrance to the parking building will be along Gov. Pack Road fronting the University of the Cordilleras.
According to the Traffic Management Unit of the Baguio City Police Office, the management of SM City Baguio has coordinated with the TMU regarding the structure’s opening. The TMU said it will allow SM to use Gov. Pack as ingress for the mall’s clients but will come out with a traffic assessment once the parking building is fully operational.
Gov. Pack Road is the central bus terminal of Baguio.
SM City Baguio management claims that the parking building will help address inadequate parking spaces in the central business district.
The expanded parking will provide 698 parking slots and an additional 202 bicycle parking slots in addition to its current 765 parking spaces.
The parking building is a component of SM City Baguio’s expansion project.
SM City Baguio’s expansion led to a wave of protests including court cases that intended to stop the mall from proceeding with its project.
Early this year, the Supreme Court made permanent the stoppage order against the tree cutting and earth-balling at SM City Baguio’s expansion site.
However, the people who led in the court battles described their victory as “bitter-sweet” because by the time the SC issued its decision, 182 trees have already been cut or balled and construction was in full swing.
“After seven years, the decision came, but the trees we are fighting for are mostly gone already,” the Cordillera Global Network, then told the Courier.
The issue stemmed in 2012 after the SM expansion plan was vehemently opposed because it entailed cutting/earth-balling of 182 pine and alnus trees. Environment advocates filed and secured from the Court of Appeals a temporary environment protection order but the same was lifted late 2014.
SM cut down 60 trees in 2015, prompting the petitioners to bring the case to the SC and securing the March 2015 TRO. – Rimaliza A. Opiña