Helsinki to propose study on possible municipal merger in capital region
Vantaa to be asked to join in drafting report
Vantaa coat of arms
Helsinki coat of arms
Helsinki plans to propose to neighbouring Vantaa that a study be conducted to assess the positive and negative effects of merging the two cities.
Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen is currently drawing up a proposal for the City Board on how the advantages and disadvantages of a merger of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen should be ascertained.
“The answer will come in February”, Pajunen says.
Helsingin Sanomat has learned that Pajunen is also proposing that Vantaa be asked to join in the drafting of the study.
Pajunen himself is not commenting on what he will say, but Helsingin Sanomat was told on Wednesday that Pajunen has made personal overtures to Vantaa on the matter.
The Vantaa City Council could get a chance to respond to possible proposals in late March.
The Helsinki City Council has decided earlier that it will produce a report on its own, if necessary.
Helsingin Sanomat has information that plans are to hire a special rapporteur to serve as a figurehead of the municipal merger report. Joining the project would be a number of university researchers and consultants.
The Social Democrats in Vantaa hold a key position. The independence of Vantaa was a key election theme for the Vantaa SDP in the recent municipal elections.
Helsinki Social Democrats are seeking to persuade their comrades in Vantaa to agree to the study of the merger.
The situation is made more complicated by the fact that the Vantaa Social Democrats have not been allocated all of their seats on municipal boards.
Nevertheless, Helsingin Sanomat has found that a majority of members on the Vantaa City Council, including some Social Democrats, are in favour of studying the feasibility of a merger.
The possibility of a merger of Helsinki and Vantaa has been discussed after it appeared that joining the entire Helsinki region - including Espoo and Kauniainen, began to look impossible last year.
Politicians in Espoo and Kauniainen were sharply opposed to even investigating the possibility of such a move. Those in Vantaa, on the other hand, were not as insistent.
However, thanks to the voluntary cooperation of the four cities, the water utilities in the region are to be joined together.
However, politicians in Helsinki have been dissatisfied with the slow progress of regional cooperation in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
Even if a study on the possibilities of a merger were to be approved by Vantaa, it does not mean that the two cities will be united.
The possible joining of the two cities would come under consideration only after the study is completed.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Minister of Housing believes in merger of Helsinki and Vantaa (19.9.2008)
Street poll shows support for merger of cities in Greater Helsinki area (11.5.2008)
Possible Helsinki-Vantaa merger could be examined soon (28.10.2008)
Government not ready to boost Greater Helsinki metropolis (19.1.2009)