Ilsur Metshin: ''We've got the next expensive gift, 123,4m rubles were invested in the reconstruction of the public square''

The mayor of Kazan about the opening of the renewed public square and the hillside near the NCC

The public square and the hillside near the NCC opened on 10 October after a year of reconstruction. It's only the first stage of the renewal of the territory. It's expected parking for almost 1,000 lots will open soon. In an interview with Realnoe Vremya, Kazan Mayor Ilsur Metshin told how topical the issue of parking lots in Kazan was and how the programme on development of public spaces would go on in the city.

The renewed hillside near the NCC opened on 10 October. Could you assess its importance for the city? Do you like the job that was done?

I'm not just glad but happy that we've had another amenity. It's a sacred place in the city centre. But it wasn't available for citizens of Kazan and guests to visit. Today the public square in front of the NCC is transforming: the president made a decision to reconstruct the complex and locate the National Library in it. And thanks to TAIF Group of Companies, the public square has been improved, parking for almost 1,000 lots has been built, which will solve serious problems with parking – it means a lot. Initially, the borders of the improvement were much narrower. But TAIF decided to expand the territory during the next walk with Rustam Minnikhanov. I want to thank TAIF – it's a series of gifts for Kazan. Last year, we were glad about the revival of the system of the Swan Lakes where the water surface increased from 4 to 32 hectares. The favourite leisure place of the citizens is back thanks to Kazanorgsintez and TAIF Group of Companies. A year hasn't passed since we've got the next expensive gift, 123,4m rubles were invested in the reconstruction of the public square. I'm happy our city, the republic has such socially responsible companies than find an opportunity to improve life to the good.

123,4m rubles were invested in the reconstruction of the public square. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

You've mentioned the problem with parking. How important is the problem of parking lots in the city centre?

The car ownership level grows in Kazan – there are 333 cars per 1,000 residents. There were registered 414,000 cars as from 1 September. According to experts, car sales in Kazan grew by 13%, or 21,500 cars last year – it's the third position after Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Our roads are congested, especially in the centre. We have parking near the Kremlin Embankment, but it accommodates only 350 cars. The new parking near the NCC will help to solve the problem of the embankment's availability – people will be able to come by their own car. In addition, the parking is designed for the future, the logistics is well thought out – there are comfortable entrances and exits. Today we've been in the parking and looked it over with Mr Minnikhanov, he liked what he saw.

What do you think of the occupancy rate of the parking?

It remains to be seen. But we have so many cars that we could build another two parking areas – they will be occupied before you can blink. I'm sure it will be a successful business.

The underground car park is designed for 957 parking lots, it will open soon. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

The programme on parks and public squares has been accomplished since 2015. Could you evaluate the job that was done? Which of the projects do you like best?

It's hard to say, it's like asking who of your four children you love the most. They are all important, but the eco-rehabilitation of the Swan Lakes' system is an especial contribution. It's not just an amenity, it's a facility of ecological safety, it's lungs of our city. This is why all sites are important: Lake Kaban and Black Lake, Victory Park and, undoubtedly, Gorky Park, Gorky-Ometyevo Forest, Lyadskoy Garden, Pine Grove park.

We remember well how it began: since 2011, when we accomplished the first programmes, the total area of parks in Kazan has increased by 125 hectares – now it totals 367 hectares, it's 140 parks, public squares and embankments. It's especially pleasant that they are in demand among the citizens.

What are your plans in improving parks and public squares?

We want to complete Lake Low Kaban, reach the new zoo and connect it with our rowing channel. We have a serious desire to make at least one entrance to Dubrava forest park because there aren't any conditions there, while the park zone is a sacred place for residents of Privolzhsky District. The second stage of Absalyamov Square awaits us, we want to finish Dekabristov Street and get the public square near Kazan Family Centre where the Fan Fest took place during the FIFA WC to life. It needs reconstruction. As for beaches, we will deal with Lake Komsomolskaya and Lake Glubokoye, Lokomotiv is also projected. We want to create an embankment from the River Port to Admiralty Settlement. And Rainbow is also probably among the plans.

The number of tourists in Kazan has grown more than seven times in 13 years. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Will there be a park?

We will start projecting Rainbow, the general plan includes a park. We will continue these works in 2019. In addition, there is a big sand spot next to the NCC. Mr Minnikhanov offered TAIF to create a public square, and Mr Shigabutdinov promised to think of it. So the plans are big, and they can be accomplished in the nearest future – in 2019 and 2020.

How does the renewal of public spaces affect the activity of residents?

I think it's easily seen how many people spend time in parks, public squares and embankments. It changes people – they start having a healthy lifestyle, they start to get used to walking in the park in the morning or after work, residents begin going jogging, running, riding a bicycle. We're proud of our city and see the growing interest of our residents from abroad. We expect to welcome the three millionth tourist in November. 450,000 tourists visited us in 2005, Kazan's 1,000th anniversary year. Now we've reached three million, the growth is equal to more than seven times. We're third in Europe with this result and eighth in the world in inbound tourism growth dynamics. We hear many amazed comments from people who visited us. This is why we do our best to make the Kazan citizens' life more comfortable. We try to comply with increasing requirements and do everything to make the city comfortable, clean and people proud of it.

By Ksenia Zharkova