«I reassessed my duties when the war began.» Interview on how Lviv’s youngest district is preparing for the winter

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Before the most uncertain winter, the Sykhiv district is installing new-typed heating points in the high-raised houses. How are the officials work to prevent emergencies, what is the condition of shelters in the educational institutions, and how many refugees are still living in the area – we asked Halyna Hladyak, the head of the Sykhiv District Administration, during our «Topic of the Week» studio talk.

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The district heating system is currently being filled with water. When will the heat be provided to citizens’ apartments?

If we talk about the usual conditions, then we are ready for everything. We are completing a pilot project for the installation of individual heating points in the Sykhiv district. 

Regarding preparation for the heating season, I must say that we are expecting the hardest winter ever, so we are actively preparing for it. Windows and doors should be insulated to keep as much heat as possible. We purchase and install metal stoves – in the simplest shelters. We do this so that, in the event of an emergency, people have a place to warm up, prepare tea, coffee, and hot food.

How many heating points do you plan to arrange in the Sykhiv district?

We plan to install them in all houses that have such a technical possibility, that is, where the basements are, as they can serve as the simplest shelters. However, not all of them have the required height, and the basements of panel houses do not always have the appropriate ventilation system which would comply with the regulations. We have 45 houses that do not have basements at all, so we will consider other options for installing such stoves. If we talk about the number, they are already present in 19 houses.

Read also: Back to furnaces in old houses. The official on preparing the historical part of Lviv for the winter

How would the individual heating points reduce the waste of energy?

What I can say for sure is that the quality of service has improved in some houses. That is, earlier, it was quite warm on the upper floors of the buildings, while the residents of the lower floors complained about the cold. When individual heating points were installed, the distribution of the heat in the house became slightly different, and now, apartments on the lower floors are warmer. The situation is similar with hot water: earlier, apartment dwellers had to drain a certain amount of water so that water of the required temperature flowed from the faucet. Now, the water circulates constantly, so it no longer needs to be drained.

Currently, the city is harvesting wood for the winter, collecting cut and broken branches of trees. What is the situation in the Sykhiv district?

Yes, this process is actively ongoing. First, together with the ecology departments of Lviv city council and Lviv regional council, we conduct a survey of green areas that require some trees to be cut. And if there is already an act about it, then the contracting organization will execute it. To date, our municipal enterprises, management companies, condominiums, and private companies that have trimmed trees, have already harvested 230 cubic meters of wood and continue to do it.

Read also: «We’re stocking up on coal, firewood and gasoline,» – Lviv authorities on preparation for the winter

The educational process began in September. What is the situation with schools and kindergartens in the district?

There are 35 educational institutions in the territory of the Sykhiv district, these are 20 schools and 15 kindergartens. Children started attending preschool before the beginning of September. However, I believe, everyone knows that at a certain period, internally displaced persons lived in educational institutions. Only after the decision to start the educational process, we began to relocate them to other places within and outside the city, but still on the territory of the region.

The educational process continues, but it is mixed in schools. Some students start at 08:15, while others, like high school students, come later, so their learning process is longer.

Before the start of the school year, we conducted a survey of shelters in our schools together with the city’s education department. There were repair works, which are still undergoing completion in some institutions, but education does not stop. During this time, fortunately, there were no frequent air alarms. It must be said that children react to them differently: kindergarten attendees are especially worried, some cannot cope with emotions.

What is the current situation with the placement of internally displaced persons?

Since February 24, almost 26,000 internally displaced persons have been registered in the Sykhiv district. But not all of these people live here now. Some came to us from other locations, could live here for two or three days and go further abroad. There are also those who live in private apartments because they have money to rent them. Let me remind you that owners of residential premises still receive compensation for free accommodation of refugees. As of today, 150 families from our district have applied for such payments. Moreover, private structures also have seven facilities where internally displaced persons live (986 people).

It is known that some of them live in dormitories, in particular in the dormitory of the Lviv Commercial Academy on Ternopilska Street, 8. We have a video of the current condition of this room. Frankly speaking, it’s far from the best. Would you please tell us about this situation, since people should not live in such conditions.

Yes, this dormitory needs a lot of renovation work. It did not function for more than three years, because the Lviv Commercial Academy planned its reconstruction and relocated students to other facilities. However, at the beginning of the Russian military aggression, the institution together with entrepreneurs decided to host people there, because there was simply nowhere to settle them. This dormitory is the most suitable for this task: it has block-type rooms, but you need to invest a lot of money in repairs.

The commercial academy is a private educational institution. Therefore, in order for the city to be able to invest in repair works, it is necessary to agree on certain legal points. The lease agreement for this dormitory should be finalised during these days. The city will rent it, make repairs, and after its completion, the refugees will be hosted there. Now, nobody lives on the upper floors, because the electrical network and bathrooms need to be repaired there. In the summer, [the state-owned heating company] «Lvivteploenergo» together with the Sykhiv district administration restored the centralised heating system and cold water supply in this dormitory. Now, the heating there can be turned on.

I have seen information that two places were identified in the district to build underground parking lots that can be used as shelters if necessary.

There are no one hundred per cent designated places yet. This is not a matter for me, but rather for the urban planning department. According to the decision of the executive committee, new requirements for parking lots were approved: they must have at least two emergency exits on opposite sides and a place for heating. Now, the parking lots are mostly open, and there are no such places. There must also be a backup source of heating and tanks with a supply of water that constantly circulates, in case of an emergency.

Are you contacted by the representatives of the houses, where residents prefer to install stoves in the basements?

Yes, we have such appeals. The installation of such furnaces is prohibited, according to fire regulations, but it is provided that, as an exception, they can be installed during an emergency. In this case, certain requirements must be observed: if there is a wooden covering, it must be protected, for instance, with bricks and a metal sheet over it, to prevent the floor from heating. There are also requirements for the place of removal of combustion products.

Read also: Updated alarm system and preparation for the winter without gas. A talk with the State Emergency Service representative

If condominiums or management companies install such a stove, they call our representative. Sometimes we also involve a representative of the Ministry of Emergency Situations to determine the safest location for installing such stoves. There are condominiums that decided to put up tents for heating in their neighbourhood and install metal stoves inside. But they are still looking for these tents.

We have a difficult budget year, many expenses have been reduced. What projects are implemented in the district?

None of those related to the development budget, unfortunately. We had ambitions to begin the reconstruction of Dovzhenko Square this year, but due to the beginning of military aggression, we were unable to do so, because it’s very expensive. We planned to replace engineering networks, part of the contact trolleybus network, install street furniture, fountains, but I cannot say when all this will be implemented.

Are you formulating budget requests for the next year, in particular regarding repairs of houses and dormitories?

Sure. We are preparing a budget request for landscaping, sanitary cleaning, and daily needs to ensure the vitality of the district. We are also preparing to submit a proposal for the development budget, but it is difficult to say what the result will be.

Do you need additional activity from the residents? Can they make suggestions as to what exactly should be done so that you include it in the requests?

I will say frankly – residents do not stop contacting us. The number of appeals decreased quite a bit. There are many needs we would like to satisfy, but it’s impossible. We make current repairs and perform minor works. And the approved projects at the facilities, which began to be implemented at the end of 2021, had to be stopped.

We see how events are unfolding in the cities and districts that are currently under occupation. Have you reassessed the direction of your work as the head of the district administration?

I reassessed it when the war began. We had registration points for internally displaced persons, kitchenettes where volunteers prepared food for the newcomers. People travelled for a long time, did not eat or drink. They had to be warmed, fed, and given hot tea. Doctors worked around the clock because people came with various problems, injuries, many with small children. This is the most difficult and the most terrible thing that I managed to experience during this period. Because when trouble happens, there is no zone of responsibility – you just have to help people solve the problems that arise. Although this is not always my area of ​​responsibility, there are some connections and contacts, so I cannot say that this is «not my matter».

Sergiy Smirnov spoke

Text: Marichka Ilyina, translated by Vitalii Holich

Photo: Ivan Stanislavskyi

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