Special Report 5
See the Beautiful Mountains and Rivers of Taipei
There is almost no other city in the world like Taipei that you can see mountains stretching into the distance when you look down a road. The Xindian River, Jingmei River, and Tamsui River surround the city while the Keelung River passes through. Such a unique landscape is what nurtured Taipei’s special culture.
The Taipei City Government established the Tamsui River Revitalization Committee in 2005 to remediate, restore, and revitalize the Tamsui River. The committee has 3 divisions, namely water quality and volume, landscape and recreation, and environmental education, each responsible for implementing various plans. From 2011, the committee made every effort to create a whole new appearance for the river under the vision of “New River,” “New River Bank,” and “New City.”
Comprehensive Flood Control Achieves Success
In river remediation, the Tiao-Mi Historic Trail at the end of Wuxing St. in Xinyi District was a shortcut that farmers of Sanzhangli took to sell rice in the Nangang and Wenshan Districts during early periods. The trial offers a great view of Taipei and is a perfect place to see the Taipei 101 Building. However, the trail is steep and often has debris flows whenever torrential rain scours the river valley, threatening local residents. The Geotechnical Engineering Office, Public Works Department, Taipei City Government remediated the trial over a course of several years to eliminate this threat, and the Tiao-Mi Historic Trail today has become an outdoor ecological classroom for hiking and riverside activities.
A similar successful example is the remediation of Dagou Stream in Dahu Village, Neihu District. The Hydraulic Engineering Office, Public Works Department, Taipei City Government (HEO) adopted the concept of comprehensive flood control and constructed retention ponds at Dagou Stream, which had caused flooding in the past. The riverside trail was laid using natural rocks in coordination with the Dagou Stream’s natural terrain, and an ecological wetland was built which can be easily accessed by visitors. The area is now home to many species, including Little Egret (Egretta garzetta ), Taiwan shovel-jaw carp (Onychostoma barbatulum ), and Taiwan Blue Magpie (Urocissa caerulea ). The HEO not only relieved the area from long years of flooding, but also provided a new place for leisure activities and environmental education in Taipei.
Come! Enjoy Water and Land Scenery on a River Cruise Micro-Trip
More and more people are taking river cruises, which offer a view of Taipei’s natural and cultural scenery, as the Taipei City Government has stepped up river remediation and improvement of the riverside landscape, and continuously introduced new travel packages via different marketing channels. The Taipei City Public Transportation Office launched the “Taipei River Cruise Micro-trip” Project in 2013, adding bicycle tours, ecological walks or historical and cultural tours to the travel package. Specialty river cruises with night boat trips, DIY cotton candy, modeling balloons, and magic performances offer greater value for the price and have received excellent feedback. The River Cruise Extracurricular Activity Project was implemented for students, providing education on river environments through entertainment.
Falling in Love with Riverside Parks, Water Activities are the Latest Craze
Taipei is already highly developed, but still has a window for convenient access to nature – riverside parks. The HEO planned 6 riverside parks with different themes to provide a leisure environment for recreation and exercise. In 2013, the Dajia Riverside Park with the theme “parent-child” and the Chengmei Left/Right Bank Riverside Park with the theme “love” were completed. Also, large areas of flowers were planted in Dajia Riverside Park and Guting Riverside Park. The public showed great approval towards the parks. The HEO also constructed a landscape embankment on the right bank of Jingmei River (from Wanfang Interchange to Wanfang Rd.); the top of the embankment has a mild slope and bikeway to provide visitors with a diverse leisure space. The Taipei City Government has gradually torn down the barrier between the city and rivers through the numerous measures above.
The length of bikeways in riverside parks has reached 112 km, circling around the entirety of Taipei and becoming the number one choice for cyclists. There were originally a few bikeways that shared roads in Shezi Island, and the HEO added a bikeway on the Keelung River side of Shezidao in 2013, so that cyclers would no longer need to fight with cars for space on the roads. This significantly improved the quality and safety of cycling along the riverside.
Aside from the transformation of riversides, the Department of Sports, Taipei City Government is attracting public participation in water activities, offering a new option for recreation during the holidays. Many interesting and fun activities were held in 2013,including the “2013 Taipei Dragon Boat Festival” and the “2013 Taipei Citizen Aqua Activities Experiencing Program,” which attracted over 60,000 participants and gradually recalled the public’s passion and motivation to engage in water activities.
Injecting New Life into Old Buildings, Traditional Art in Riverside Cultural Spaces
In addition to the revitalization of riversides and water activities, the Taipei City Government has spared no effort in the repair, transformation and revitalization of cultural spaces along rivers. For example, Treasure Hill Artist Village, which is located on the river bank in Gongguan, is the first “settlement” designated by Taipei in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act . This settlement is mainly formed by illegal buildings constructed in the 1970s and 1980s. The buildings are surrounded by the hills on one side and waters on the other and randomly spread out, but they represent the special appearance of settlements in Taiwan. Treasure Hill Artist Village was preserved based on the concept of coexistence of art and residents, which created its rich and diverse appearance and injected new life into the village.
Mountain and Rivers Reflect the True Appearance of Taipei
The beauty of the Tamsui River is not past tense, nor is it future tense. It is present continuous tense, and the Taipei City Government will actively endeavor to promote Taipei’s beautiful mountains, rivers and culture. The burden is heavy and the road is long; the efforts of the Taipei City Government and contributions from various communities are not enough, and we must rely on the supervision of public opinion and public participation. Revitalization of Tamsui River can only be achieved if we all work together toward the vision of creating a beautiful, cultural and ecological city. Only then will Taipei’s true appearance be seen.