Anti-Piano group demands referendum on City Gate (Malta Today)

A new group called ‘Stop Project Piano’ will tomorrow call for a referendum to halt the City Gate regeneration project, in a against world renowned architect Renzo Piano’s designs for Valletta and the opera house ruins.

The group’s aims are to call for a referendum and “halt the Government’s rush of madness – the unwanted Piano Project”.

“It is evident that a substantial majority is against it. Forums, newspapers letters and articles, online polls, petitions, discussions, NGO activities… all testify to an opposition towards Renzo Piano’s brainchild. We have been waiting patiently for over 60 years for the Opera house to be rebuilt and now the project has been hijacked for shortsighted political objectives,” the group said.

The prospects for the group are not looking great: the shops in Freedom Square as well as the Yellow Garage below City Gate have already started to be vacated, and work on the Piano project expected to start on April 1, after being green-lit by the MEPA board.

The group is still planning to collect signatures through its website www.stopprojectpiano.com, where visitors can register their preference to join the referendum campaign.

However, the group’s coordinator is only speaking on condition of anonymity. Speaking to MaltaToday, the coordinator said that the main reason for this campaign was to give a voice to the people on a project which has been effectively rammed down its throats.

“‘Stop Project Piano’ is a movement made up of common people with nothing to gain but everything to lose. There still are people left in this country who love their country and are ready to stand up for what they believe in…”

Describing the government as “arrogant” and the Opposition “ineffective”, *** said the group will campaign via the internet, and then hold corner meetings to “educate the people on what is really at stake should the project go on”. Signatures will be collected for a petition to hold a referendum, and a demonstration will also be held.

“The government is in a difficult situation. It dreams of that slight majority that will grant it a win in the next elections. Now that thousands of euros have been spent in paperwork, plans, controversies and modifications, the administration is willing to pursue the project and have it completed just in time. Just like Mater Dei was… what matters are not the people’s ambitions, but a timeline and budget.”

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