Tag Archives: Arild Olsen

A WHALE OF A PRIDE CELEBRATION: Mother Nature among those sending signs of blessings (again) as hundreds gather for Longyearbyen’s second LGBQT+ festival

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Photo by Longyearbyen Mayor Arild Olsen before his speech Saturday at the town’s second Pride Festival

Say what you will about how “natural” the LGBQT+ presence is, but the world’s northernmost Pride Festival has seen Mother Nature offer what might be seen as her blessings during both of the gatherings to date.

NEW POWER PLANT ‘WITHIN TWO TO FIVE YEARS’: Norway’s government says new climate-friendly energy facility will be in 2022 budget; fate of Mine 7 and Store Norske uncertain

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A major and accelerated transition from a coal-fueled to a climate-friendly power plant in Longyearbyen, with a new facility in the 2022 budget that is operating within two to five years, was announced Monday by Norway’s government.

The announcement, if fulfilled, means the city’s 38-year-old coal plant will shut down well before the end of its theoretical life expectancy – although it will decommissioned in phases. It also means Mine 7 will lose its essential purpose of supplying coal to the power plant, leaving uncertain the fate of the last mining operation by Store Norske and other Norwegian companies that have been the foundation of Longyearbyen’s existence for virtually all of its 115-year history.

LONGYEARBYEN SEEKS HALT OF INCOMING TOURISTS: Mayor says Svalbard not equipped for quarantine of visitors from non-Nordic countries; asks Norwegian government for ban

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Longyearbyen is requesting the Norwegian government ban tourists from non-Nordic countries from arriving in Svalbard during a mandatory 14-day quarantine enacted Thursday due to the coronavirus, stating the isolated archipelago is not adequately able to accommodate them.

ELECTION 2019: Labor barely wins most votes (for now), but Liberals poised to take over leadership of local council

Labor barely won the most votes as of now, but Liberals are the ones who may be claiming victory for the next four years.

Who will lead Longyearbyen during the next four years remains very much in doubt following the local council election, as a preliminary vote count Monday night shows Labor edging Liberals 342 to 333. Both parties will get five of the 15 council seats with those totals and, while Labor has presided over the majority for the past 16 years, Liberals may have the advantage in forming a majority coalition during discussions in the coming days with the three other parties on the ballot.

Avalanche death settlement: Parents of Nikoline Røkenes, 2, resolve negligence complaint against city for 2.3M kr.

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The parents of a two-year-old girl killed when their home was buried in the Dec. 19, 2015, avalanche have agreed to settle a negligence complaint against the city of Longyearbyen for 2.365 million kroner that will be paid through an insurance company, with the city not acknowledging responsibility for the girl’s death, according to the family’s attorney.

CANDLES DEFYING THE STORM: ‘Slowly we have taken back everyday life’ three years after a deadly and fateful avalanche hits Longyearbyen

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There’s a vast dark gap between other homes lit with Christmas lights, and beneath it candles flickering in a snowbank in defiance of heavy rain and wind. Aside from the elements there’s mostly an erie quiet since the water-and-ice surface makes movement treacherous, but at intervals people pause to reflect, place their own candle and exchange memories with others who shared one of Longyearbyen’s most tragic moments three years ago.

Guess who’s in the house? Workers aren’t sure where they can live after latest avalanches redefines ‘community in transition’

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Eighteen months ago there were scary headlines about Longyearbyen losing 30 percent of its population and panicky questions about who would fill all those empty homes where laid off coal miners recently lived.

Now the panic is how to squeeze a non-declining population into a suddenly alarming shortage of housing being sold and rented at skyrocketing prices.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Evacuees allowed to collect belongings from 3-6 p.m. Thursday as city grapples with housing solution

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Residents of 55 evacuated apartments and houses who suddenly found themselves homeless for the long-term Wednesday night will be allowed back into their homes between 3 and 6 p.m. to retrieve belongings, according to The Governor of Svalbard. There will also be additional opportunities at a time to be determined.

The question for many is where they’ll be moving those belongings to.

New abnormal: How often will we have to evacuate homes this winter due to extreme storms? And for good later?

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We may be in for a winter of discontent, but that’s far preferable to another time of tragedy.

Hundreds of Longyearbyen residents were forced to evacuate their homes for the second time in less than a year earlier this month due to extreme weather and officials said it’s entirely possible more will occur in the near future. What nobody can realistically predict, of course, is just how often.

It’s official – we’re in a depression: 16 percent drop of Svalbard’s economic activity in 2015 fueled by 40 percent drop in mining and transport

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A depression is defined as a 10 percent drop in economic activity or a downturn lasting more than two years. Svalbard has already blown through the first qualification with a 15.8 percent drop in activity in 2015 and stands a good chance of meeting the second this year.

The downturn was caused by a 39 percent drop in mining-related activity, which in turn fueled a 43.1 percent drop in transportation and storage, activity, according to Statistics Norway.

But despite the sharp downturn, employment in the archipelago actually rose one percent compared to 2014 due largely to increased activity in tourism and recreation, with tourism surpassing mining as the biggest employer. That may be a sign of Longyearbyen making a quick and drastic change from its century-long history as a coal mining one due to what the agency described as a “rapid growth in part-time jobs.”