Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of April 3, 2018


Controversial apartment complex with reduced parking approved by council
The construction of a controversial 60-apartment subdivision with a less-than-standard number of parking spaces was approved by the Longyearbyen Community Council, but with harsh criticism from some members who accused some city officials and the builder of trying to force the project through without proper debate. Statsbygg as the builder sought to provide only 1.2 parking spaces per unit, instead of the standard two called for in the official city land plan, and Conservative Party member Kjetil Figenschou said Labor Party members used their majority to push the modification through at the committee level. “The mayor (Arild Olsen) has also acted poorly by calling individual politicians in connection with the case and explained to them what the outcome of the case should be,” Figenschou said during the council meeting just before Easter. Statsbygg asserted it was not economically feasible to build a housing subdivision with less than 60 units, but that it could not do so on the space allocated without reducing the number of parking spaces. The council approved an allocation of 1.6 parking spaces for larger apartments and 1.2 for the smaller ones, or a total of 12 less than the normal amount.

Parliament to consider folk high school in Longyearbyen
A folk high school in Longyearbyen will be formally considered by Parliament this spring and could open by the fall of 2019, according to Ministry of Education and Research Jan Tore Sanner. “Svalbard has magnificent Arctic nature to offer, but Svalbard is also one of the places where climate change is most visible,” he said. “Adding a folk high school to Svalbard could provide an exciting and unique offering that is not elsewhere, and could contribute to greater attention on the northern regions.” Local politicians and other officials have been lobbying for the adult school for the past year. The legislation will amend Norway’s Higher Education Act Government to allow folk high schools in Svalbard and, if approved, special approval would allow one to open in Longyearbyen on an accelerated time scale.