Finland’s largest-ever municipal initiative handed over to the City of Helsinki

Seppo SipiläNews archive

The initiative “Municipal referendum on the preservation of Helsinki-Malmi Airport for aviation use” was handed over to the City of Helsinki Registry Office on Monday, August 2, 2021 at 9 am. The initiative achieved more than 31.000 signatures, exceeding the requirement of 4% of the population over 15 years of age by 10.000.

Direct civic democracy and open decision-making are valuable

Frank Töölö, who also worked on Lex Malmi law initiative, emphasizes the value of direct democracy:  

“The municipal referendum on Malmi Airport is an excellent way to test how direct democracy, which has been much emphasized by the political parties, can also be utilized in particularly important individual matters in Helsinki.”

There has never been a municipal referendum in Helsinki before, but now the residents demand it with the amount of support required by law. The initiator of the initiative, former Mayor Raimo Ilaskivi,  assesses which course of action the new council wants to take: 

“On this Monday, a new week begins and Helsinki prepares for the implementation of the new administration which it has acquired in the municipal elections. There are new decision-makers now, but we’ll see whether the policy will change or whether the old one is continued – and I am now referring specifically to the fate of Malmi Airport. Which kind of people sit in the new city government and council: contentious or longing for peace in the matter of Malmi Airport? It is of more and more interest to Helsinki residents.”

Timo Hyvönen, the  third initiator of the initiative, hopes that the new councilmembers will appreciate the municipal initiative:

“With their right of initiative, local residents want clarity through a referendum. According to the original decision, the area is reserved for aviation use, but attempts have been made to change that decision for decades. So let’s ask the citizens.” 

The situation has changed significantly

The potential of Malmi Airport has increased with the advent of intelligent aviation. Frank Töölö emphasizes the change in travel:  

“The faster-than-expected development of electric aviation is in itself a strong argument for re-examining the Malmi issue, and shows that the decisions already taken are factually outdated. In the State Transport 12 project, small airports have been highlighted for assessment as part of the transport system.”

Citizens see other great values ​​in the airfield too, Hyvönen knows.

“When the drive for housing construction in the area started, there was no knowledge of the new vistas of aviation. However, it is not just a question of aviation or Malmi’s extremely valuable cultural heritage. Citizens are concerned about the endangered species in the area and the outdoor activities in the surroundings of the airport. All this has strengthened the already strong popular movement, as zoning has sometimes been driven forward even by questionable means. Now the Court of Appeal is also considering the legality of the termination of the runway lease agreement.”

Hyvönen proposes a consensus:

“It would be best to work together to develop the area according to the hybrid model just announced. It’s not EITHER housing OR aviation, as having both at the same time is entirely possible. ”

Finland’s biggest municipal initiative by far

On Sunday, August 1, 2021, the initiative had garnered 31,284 support from Helsinkians. The initiators of the initiative, Frank Töölö (also the initiator of the Lex Malmi citizens’ law initiative) and Timo Hyvönen (chairman of the Friends of Malmi Airport Association) handed over the support lists collected by volunteers and sent the supporting signatures collected electronically on the initiatives website of the Ministry of Justice to the Helsinki City Registrar’s Office. The third initiator of the initiative, former Mayor Raimo Ilaskivi, was unable to attend due to family reasons.