The newly opened Metro Park in Newtown is a "green oasis" boasting an award-winning landscaping design that incorporates water features, next-generation play equipment, five-a-side sports grounds, an amphitheatre, and the city's first mobile wi-fi library.

Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau prepares to cut the ribbon
Johannesburg Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau, accompanied by Mayoral Committee for Community Development Member Chris Vondo, prepares to open the new park

THE CITY of Joburg launched a brand new park in the inner city on Friday, 19 September, on the eve of World Parks Day, an international day aimed at promoting and celebrating parks and green spaces across the globe.

Described as "the ultimate outdoor experience" and the latest jewel of the inner city, the R16-million Inner City Metro Park was officially opened by Johannesburg Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau, who was accompanied by Mayoral Committee for Community Development Member Chris Vondo.

The colourful and joyful celebration delighted hundreds of residents who attended the event, which was marked by cultural dancing, miming, stilt walking and live musical performances.

"This newest green lung is an ideal space for relaxation and recreation - right in the hub of the inner city. [It is] an important open space that also provides the community with a safe environment to improve and work on a healthy lifestyle," said Mayor Tau.

The park also boasts a free-to-use outdoor green gym, the 10th to be installed in Johannesburg by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo.

"You no longer have to be a member of a private gym facility to have access to new-age gym equipment and facilities. Parks with green gyms are staffed by dedicated instructors who are there to advise, train and assist users and to encourage them to adopt a healthy living and lifestyle choices to reduce the risk of lifestyle or communicable diseases and conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity," Mayor Tau said.

Located near the Nelson Mandela Bridge and flanked by the Bree Street Taxi Rank, the park is a "green oasis" boasting an award-winning landscaping design with water features, next-generation play equipment, ablution facilities, five-a-side sports grounds, an amphitheatre and the city's first mobile wi-fi library.

Learners give the new outdoor gym equipment a test-drive
Learners give the new outdoor gym equipment a test-drive

Developed by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo in partnership with the Johannesburg Development Agency, the park recently won the prestigious Gold Excellence Award at the SA Landscape Institute Awards in Durban. It is set to become the new meeting point for thousands of inner city residents.

Councillor Vondo said during the launch: "Open spaces such as the Inner City Metro Park positively contribute to their surrounding communities by serving as hubs of cohesion and inclusion and making areas safer in that they attract an increase in visitors, while underdeveloped spaces tend to attract criminal elements."

The development of the park is part of a plan to bridge the green divide by expanding Johannesburg's urban forest. The park, a previously disused space, further complements the City's Corridors of Freedom project, which aims to improve the lives of all communities.

The park is designed to meet the needs of inner city residents who live in high-rise buildings that don't have access to green spaces for recreation and relaxation. The library will also provide learners with the opportunity to research for school projects and environmental programmes linked to the school curriculum.

Both Mayor Tau and Councillor Vondo appealed to the community to take ownership of the "masterpiece facility" as it was essentially theirs to enjoy and benefit from.

In recognition of their commitment to the green environment and as a token of appreciation from Joburg City Parks to key media partners, Mayor Tau presented Kaya FM, Landscape SA, the Caxton Group and Jozi FM with green ambassador certificates during the opening.