A celebrating Kokkola heads into its fifth century with renewal

Kokkola (Karleby)
www.kokkola.fi Population: 48,000 Languages: Finnish (84%), Swedish (14%), other languages (2%) Main business fields: Chemistry, metal, agriculture, boat industry

IN 2020, the city of Kokkola celebrates 400 years of existence. While much has changed over these centuries, Kokkola remains a centre of business, where trade, industry and the port shape the city dynamics. People of Kokkola are characterized as modest business people, who do not make a fuss about their achievements.

“The story goes, that when Columbus cameto America, someone from Kokkola was there to greet him”, Jonne Sandberg, development director of Kokkola jokes with a wide grin.

Its anniversary, however, the city aims to celebrate with pomp and circumstance. The city is known for its many and versatile events, which in 2020 will be more and bigger than ever. Kokkola and the city centre, in particular, will also be spruced up by street art, city lighting, new flower arrangements and a city garden.

“Street art is part of our many anniversary projects. The pedestrian area in the city centre will have five human figures made of wire, and an Italian artist is planning a rendering of our old town’sstreet plan on the market square. As part of our city lighting plan, we will have light art in the city centre and in the new Meripuisto park”, explains Nina Kujala, technical director of Kokkola.

MANY BUILDING PROJECTS will also be finalised in time for the jubilee year. The new Chydenius primary school will be ready by the start of 2020 and the remodelled Kokkola city hall will be inaugurated by an open house event in February. The school is being built as a state-of-the-art learning environment, while the spaces of the renovated city hall support modern co-working. For both buildings, sustainability and energy efficiency have been taken into account in every aspect of the construction.

“The roof of the city hall will have 600 m2 of solar panels. This equals the electricity consumption (heating excluded) of 15–20 standard family houses”, says Kujala.

Part of the city’s larger projects are also the renovation of the city centre boulevard and theclean-up of Sunti sound, the stream that runs through Kokkola. Both projects also continue after the jubilee year, as the boulevard will be extended in 2021 and the upper reaches of Sunti are next in line after the first stretch is cleaned up in the city centre.

WHILE MANY of Kokkola’s projects will be completed in time for its 400th anniversary, the city’s most wide-reaching plans are just now at their take-off. The so-called KlaRa project, for instance, aims to develop Kokkola’s rail traffic and the city centre area through several different individual projects.

“Our railway station serves annually 300,000 people and the number is growing. It is a junction, where passengers from both the north and the inland change transport vehicles. The railway station and the bus station will be moved to the other side of the rails, where there is more space and possibilities to build residential and office buildings”, says Sandberg.

“The KlaRa project also entails the construction of a double railway track from the industrial park at the port to the railway station”, adds Kujala.

Kokkola Industrial Park (KIP) holds a chemical industry cluster with exports amounting to 1.7 billion euro. The new double rail is a key investmentin enabling further growth of these businesses and the port, which is the third largest port in Finland.

FINALLY, one of the large projects in Kokkola’s close future is a new sports and event park, which is to be built in the city centre. The park will holda hybrid arena for different sports and event purposes, a renewed swimming centre, a largerice stadium, an indoor sports centre, outdoor sports fields, recreational parks and outdoor event areas. When asked who will benefit from the huge facility, Kujala and Sandberg both answer without hesitation: “Everyone!”

Kokkola (Karleby)
www.kokkola.fi Population: 48,000 Languages: Finnish (84%), Swedish (14%), other languages (2%) Main business fields: Chemistry, metal, agriculture, boat industry