I took this dark picture last Tuesday just outside of the Yuanshan MRT station in Taipei on my iPhone. This construction zone will be a part of the grounds for the 2010 Taipei International Flora Exhibition. People are complaining about this because of the price tag: I’ve heard it's NT$10 billion. These individuals are dissatisfied because they don’t know what they’ll get back from it and there have been scandals. I’m guessing it’s the same lot as those who whined about last year’s Deaflympics: NT$9.5 billion. And many others.
I wonder how much has to be spent or wasted before one of these kinds of extravaganzas gets labeled a failure. Some pretty cool infrastructure was left behind for the Deaflympics, like a stadium and an almost Olympic-sized swimming pool (see my previous post – I’ve put a pic up there). The Flora Exhibition is going to leave behind the Eco Ark, a three-story building made out of recycled plastic bottles. That's about it.
There are also some aspects of the Flora Exhibition that confuse me. Look at the picture at the top of this post. We’re building a park, but right on top of a park. As the old park was perfectly fine, nothing’s getting improved here. Furthermore, the Eco Ark is placed over another park, one that was built just 15 years ago. Why do we have to put it on top of a park and how is that an improvement to Taipei? Why not on a gas station, an old ugly building, etc.? And do you notice the blue-fence corridor for pedestrians to walk through? That used to be a street. I asked the guards who were keeping people out of the park that we could once use freely if the city was going to reinstate the street after the Flora Exhibition. They told me they’d heard that this was likely. I’m betting that this happens. Streets and places for traffic do not trump parks.
I’m still going to say that I think if Taipei does tear up the west end of the park for cars after the Flora Exhibition, it’s a huge waste of time and money. Plus it’s kind of dishonest; we’ll be giving visitors an untrue picture of our city. My final points are for the mayor. You say we’ll make NT$16.8 billion in tourism off this NT$10 billion flower show? Where are you getting this amount? Are you simply counting any visitor that buys a ticket? If so, remember this: There are better reasons to visit Taiwan than to see some flowers, see Toroko Gorge, Hualien, the Pescadores, the National Palace Museum and Monga. See the night markets, shopping, Taipei 101. If you’re counting tickets bought by “foreigners,” you should remember that if they weren’t spending NT$3,000 on your flower show, they probably would’ve been dropping it eating in restaurants, getting out to see the country and putting that money somewhere else.