Some of my own thoughts and "I agree"

Being very passionate about the city I call my current home city, I also have views and opinions on how we best can develop Trondheim for the future. The fact that I’m having opinions, doesn’t mean that they are the correct opinions or that I will change my mind one or several times in the future. But, we must be able to take part in the discussions on how we want to see the city develop. 

Odd Reitan, a local, genius business man, recently expressed his opinions in a double-page entry in our local paper. To me, I think this is a man with vision, ambition and a lot of passion about downtown Trondheim. Mr. Reitan is not only the man behind the grocery-chainstore REMA1000, but also the man who recently bought the venerable Britannia Hotell. After his purchase, he closed the hotel for a long time and started meticulously restoring it to become one of Norway’s most fashionable luxury hotels. Recently, even though the hotel is not yet back in operation, it was added to the chain of “Leading Hotels of the World”. 

Odd Reitan (born 11 September 1951) is a Norwegian businessman. He was born in Trondheim. He is co-owner and CEO of the Reitan Group.

Basically, the article states that Mr. Reitan is worried about the current development in the downtown area and blames the restrictions on private vehicles. Everybody wants a pulsating city, but it’s hard to get anything done when everybody is so very fond of restrictions making it difficult to actually do something constructive. Amongst many things, Mr. Reitan would like to see more parking garages being built underground several places in the city. These days, the city has closed of the city square for the next 2,5 years to build a new city square, but without garages beneath. 

My personal opinion is that 2,5 years is an awful long time to build the new square. This should have been done in at least half the time, with double shifts and a lot more crew. As it is today, they only work on the city square between 09:00 and 15:00 or 16:00 hours, 5 days a week. Had it been anywhere/somewhere else in the world, the work would have been a lot more “aggressive”. 

Further in the article, Mr. Reitan has an extremely good advice: make public transport FREE. Clearly, that would be way better than any other costful restriction against private cars. I agree with Mr. Reitan on this one, that in the future, public transport will have to become free in all large cities, if the cities are to survive. 

In Trondheim, many shops in downtown area are struggling to keep “afloat” amidst city-square being a construction site, another street looking like a battle field as it’s being turned into an “environmental street", and government’s desperate tries at limiting private vehicles in town by raising tollway fees, reducing number of parking spaces, and raising the price of those spaces which are still left. I understand they are trying to make people commute by public bus, but if you are going shopping in several stores, you really don’t want to drag shopping bags around the town all day and onto an overcrowded buses to go home afterwards. It will therefore always be simpler to visit a shopping center and fill the trunk with all your shopping bags. 

Mr. Reitan also wants more apartments built in the city, perhaps for 30.000 people. But then again, he is also the owner of the largest property company in town (E.C. Dahls Eiendom), and owns most of the buildings in the downtown area. 

Furthermore, he suggests that shopwoners who wants to have their shops open also on Sunday’s, should be allowed to do so. Just because it hasn’t been done like that in the past, doesn’t mean that it must be like that into the eternal future. As I’ve said in the past, if a cruise ship happens to visit Trondheim on a Sunday, the city they come to, is greatly deserted and only coffee shops are open. 

There is also a lack of speciality shops of so many kinds, perhaps because its too hard for the average person to start their own business. If you need something a little bit special and at a fair price, in most cases, you must order it online from another city or abroad. It must became easier to open a business in town, no matter what they are going to seel or what they are going to offer. I have in the past suggested that for example, the first NOK in a new shop’s revenue, it should be tax excempt. This would perhaps make the business more stable in start up and longer lasting.  

For me, Trondheim is a dark, dirty and terribly boring city during more than half the year. Colourless, dirty and cold.  During winter months, everything is grey and black. Cars and busses are dirty, streets are dirty, snow is near black just hours after falling fresh. All streets are filled with a soup of gravel, massive amounts of road-salt, and chemicals which cant possibly be environmentally safe. 

Summer is thankfully at the entirely other end of the scale. City comes alive and explodes with colour, people and activity. 

Sometimes I feel there is a … disconnect… between those that run the city today, and the generation coming of age now. The government of the city, and other places in the world, I feel, doesn’t fully comprehend the enormously rapid changing technology. A lot of these views and technologies are completely changing the way our world works: look at new forms of businesses like for example AirBNB, Über, drones, as well as Bitcoin. Common for all of these, and many more, are that they are “invented” by people who oppose the traditional way things USED to be done in the past. Another example is Youtube: I strongly believe that in the future, its going to be the norm for how we share news, programs, films and other media. Traditional TV-channels is a dying breed. 

PS: I included drones above because I think it’s a perfect example of something that fast became a hot-selling item. The drones came so fast in the market that responsible governmental agencies I feel were actually caught off-guard, and could not produce good routines, regulations for their use and regulations for registrering drones properly. A small form for panic ensued, and they (the responsible agency) actually stated current regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles meant you needed to have a professional pilots license to operate one. 

Naturally, the generation which today governs the city, I fear might not fully comprehend and understand these new ways and tries their very best holding on to their old way of doing things. Like clutching to the time-consuming way of having to apply for something on old-style forms and papers, like for example building permits. 

Best of all, Mr. Reitan suggests to build a heart-shaped promenade along the banks of Nidelven and adjacent canals, for everyone to ride a bike and take a walk in beautiful surroundings near the river. He also wants to see cable cars several places in and around the city. All these ideas would undoubtedly be an extremely large asset not only to the people of the city, but also for tourists alike. 

I have personally spoken warmly about making a surf-board viewing platform on top of Våttakammen viewpoint, maybe even a cable car to the top, or perhaps just steps going up. All the viewpoints going to this beautiful peak is now so overgrown that you no longer can see the view. Landscaping and logging there is long overdue.

The future is really bright, but we must think BIGGER. Much, much bigger. Bigger than most are comfortable with. 

A new generation of people are getting ready to inherit the city, the country, the world. Change will come, and the world will never be the same again. I’m not afraid. 

What do YOU think about my opinions, do you see the same thing happen in your city, and what should we do to keep the cities alive?

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