Valenzuela City Government’s design proposal for a liveable and disaster resilient city has been judged second best at the government/evacuation center category of the Liveable Cities Design Challenge (LCDC) at the PICC in Pasay, Oct. 15, 2014.
LCDC panel of judges highlighted the “Tayo Na Valenzuela! The Comprehensive Disaster Preparedness Plan”for its “systematic and comprehensive design in addressing the city’s disaster vulnerability, and for the efficient execution of disaster plans, coupled with effective governance.”
The plan is in response to a geo hazards study obtained by city officials that shows flooding in low-lying parts of Valenzuela during typhoon season, earthquake, tsunami and liquefaction, or softening of the ground, as threats to the city.
The LCDC is a design competition that seeks to encourage cities to plan and design their cities for resilience and liveability, with the aim of getting its urban planners “to better plan their respective cities for a climate-defined future.”
Valenzuela City is the only NCR city to make it to the top 4 finalists that impressed the eight-member panel composed of distinguished experts and leaders in different fields pooled by contest organizers from the National Competitiveness Council Philippines and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The other finalist cities are Cagayan De Oro City, which eventually won the grand prize, Roxas City and Zamboanga City.
Crafted by Mayor REX Gatchalian and key city government officials and personnel from the City Assessor Office, Business Permits and Licensing Office, Disaster Preparedness Office, City Engineering Office, City Legal Office, City Planning and Development Office and Public Information Office, Valenzuela City’s LCDC entry calls for the development of a leveled up infrastructure network and integration of sound protocols on logistics and management that will enable the city to respond to disasters and other challenges. LCDC also brought in Dr. Nathaniel Von Einsiedel and Arch. Ruth Equipaje to help fine tune the plan while the city also had Engr. Frederick Koa, president of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) – North Metro Manila chapter as private sector representative.
Center piece of Valenzuela City’s “Liveable City" program is the P200-million ALERT (Allied Local Emergency and Evacuation Response Teams) Center being developed on a flood-free 8,670 square meter city government property across the City Hall, bounded by MacArthur Highway and Maysan Road on both ends.
Around its 2,500-meter radius are two public hospitals, the city central warehouse, designated evacuation centers and other vital government facilities and major road networks making it ideal and highly accessible.
PLANS TO REALITY
The chief executive said funding for the project has already been identified and targets its completion by 2016.
According to the plan, ALERT Center will function as the brain of the disaster preparedness and response of the city and will house buildings for the Valenzuela City Disaster Preparedness Office (DPO), the new Central Fire Station, Red Cross Volunteer Center, and the VC Tent, an event place which would also serve as the staging and packaging area during disasters.
Furthermore, DPO will also be the new home for the Valenzuela City Command and Coordinating Center (VC-C3) that administers the citywide CCTV system and satellite hubs for the Office of the Mayor, City Social Welfare and Development Office and Public Information Office.
Mayor REX disclosed in a statement that before the year ends, Central Fire Station would be fully operational while site development for the ALERT Center would also be completed.
Construction of the DPO building will start in 2015 while the VC Tent in 2016.
LAST STANDING FACILITY
Mayor REX expounded ALERT Center has been designed to be the last standing public facility in the city in the event of a catastrophe where the government can still function and address the needs of its people.
Further details of the plan show ALERT Center will be complemented by 3S (Sentro ng Sama-samang Serbisyo) Centers being constructed in 15 strategic points across Valenzuela City.
Mayor Gatchalian said eight of these centers would be completed before the year ends, five others in 2015 while the two remaining centers in 2016. The first 3S Center was inaugurated, on the other hand, in Bgy. Polo in September this year.
The plan will make ALERT Center and 3S Centers interconnected by satellite phone technology and will be equipped with generator sets and solar panels to facilitate its services in spite of a massive failure of power and communication lines.
Some of the 3S Centers, also called as City Hall Annex buildings, will feature satellite offices for business permit and licensing and social welfare. This strategy will add value to the project by making government transactions more convenient to constituents.
Architect-mentor Von Einsiedel during the awards ceremony commended Valenzuela City for demonstrating political will in making the plan more feasible by hurdling property acquisition issues and partisan politics.
Mayor REX remarked, “We assure the constituents that the city government has firm resolve to make Valenzuela, not only a business-friendly and competitive city, but also one of the most liveable cities in the country.”