My Oulu: The city is on the right track according to a recent study – citizens’ faith in the future needs to be reinforced

The attraction study established Oulu’s citizens’ thoughts on the city strategy’s guidelines and what they consider important. Photo: Harri Tarvainen

My Oulu

Julkaistu: Kirjoittaja: Merja Haukipuro (translation: Joel Loukkola)

Jaa sosiaalisessa mediassa:

The attraction study of the strategic direction conducted by the city of Oulu has been published. Based on the study results, the decision makers can interpret the citizens’ hopes for the future better and influence the city’s strategical direction. According to the study, the citizens of Oulu think the city is going in the right direction considering matters that are important to them, but there is room for improvement in trust toward the city’s development projects and internationality.

When the citizens were asked about matters regarding Oulu’s attraction as a city, the responses included everyday matters such as high-quality education, healthy life, safety, services and mobility.

The Oulu2026 European Capital of Culture project reinforces the city’s attraction clearly according to the respondents. Cultural Climate Change is expected to bring more city culture, art, creativity, sustainable travel and international atmosphere to Oulu.

“The Oulu2026 project will be significantly more visible in the city this and next year. Thanks to travel connections, internationality in Oulu will receive a new boost as, for example, international flight connections will be increased. For example, right now you can fly from Oulu straight to Germany. Currently we are working on more flight connections. Train connection to Sweden will be finalized in late 2024. These will increase Oulu’s accessibility and will prepare Oulu for the Capital of Culture year”, Oulu’s Director of Communications, Events and Marketing Mikko Salmi states.

The right direction

City Corporate Director Kari-Pekka Kronqvist sees the attraction study as positive qualitative research that extends the city strategy’s follow-up indicators.

“The opinions of the citizens supplement the data we have collected before. It is positive that the respondents can see the city strategy focus areas even if they are not familiar with the strategy document approved by the City Council. The essential message about the attraction study is that the strategy is pointed in the right direction in matters that are important to the citizens and the City Council approved city strategy is parallel to the citizens’ wishes”, Kronqvist sums up.

The essential message about the attraction study is that the strategy is pointed in the right direction in matters that are important to the citizens and the City Council approved city strategy is parallel to the citizens’ wishes.
City Corporate Director Kari-Pekka Kronqvist

The statement “Oulu will be Carbon Neutral in 2035” clearly brings up mixed opinions. Carbon neutrality means that the city invests in sustainable infrastructure, responsible construction, support of climate-friendly public transportation, promotion of circular economy and increase of carbon sinks. Oulu wants to promote environmentally friendly modes of mobility and local nature tourism as well as the increased accessibility of greenspaces and nature trails.

Knronqvist takes notice of responses regarding carbon neutrality.

“This brings up a question of why it awakens such a mixed response: is the pursuit of carbon neutrality all in all socially sustainable and fair according to the respondents? Do the effects on everyday life affect the responses as we are in a breakout phase in the goal of carbon neutrality by 2035?” Kronqvist wonders.

A bald man with glasses smiling for a camera.

“The opinions of the citizens supplement the data we have collected before”, the City Corporate Director Kari-Pekka Kronqvist states. Photo: Sanna Krook / archive

The goal of Oulu as Finland’s most business-friendly municipality was treated positively by the respondents. A majority of the respondents see Oulu as a business-friendly municipality. The economy, entrepreneurship, jobs and investments are seen as some of the region’s development prerequisites.

Faith in future needs to be reinforced

As a negative, only a small number of respondents have faith in the future of the city’s development projects and international development. Salmi believes that the citizens of Oulu should have more trust in this matter. However, the citizens of Oulu believe that the goals of the city strategy are going in the right direction.

“I believe that it is crucial for the city to communicate concretely about matters of city development. A good example is the great start Nallikari’s development has taken and the finished Aalto Hotel. These increase faith in the future. It is important that projects are finished and decisions move forward”, Salmi states.

We need to learn to discuss Oulu with a higher degree of excitement and appreciation.
The City of Oulu's Director of Communications, Events and Marketing Mikko Salmi

Faith in future must be invested in in the city’s communications and marketing according to Salmi. We need to communicate about incomplete projects to increase knowledge and understanding.

“Oulu’s communications department’s primary sin is only communicating about sure matters. Incomplete matters should be communicated about as much as the city is able to”, Salmi continues.

Salmi hopes for more positive discussion about Oulu.

“We need to learn to discuss Oulu with a higher degree of excitement and appreciation.”

Cooperation with Pohde needs to be increased

The challenges of the wellbeing services county in the responses were reflected on the city of Oulu’s successes.

“The cooperation between Pohde and the city needs to be increased further as the customers of Pohde are citizens of Oulu as well. The promotion of wellbeing and health must be made clearer to the citizens by communicating about the services”, Salmi says.

Exercise facilities, roads and streets and their maintenance came up as important matters to the respondents.

“We will take good care of these. The role of the city is making sure that the citizens can participate in city activities as much as possible. Additionally, education and youth services also support wellbeing”, Salmi states.

Development work requires patience

“A special matter that was brought up regarding the promotion of wellbeing was taking care of the fundamentals and how this is handled by the city after the wellbeing services county reform. The fundamentals of wellbeing must be human-centric and handled from the perspective of the citizens. We must recognize our responsibilities; what the citizen is responsible for and what the city will take care of in the promotion of wellbeing, considering the responsibilities of Pohde”, City Corporate Director Kronqvist explains.

According to him, the most central development target now is enhancing the prerequisites for informative leadership with different operators.

“Informative leadership requires knowledge of how public funding is used and how cost-effective that use is”, Kronqvist says.

Development work requires patience according to Krongvist.

“Generally, development work often takes multiple years. Work is being done now, but results will be visible later, even multiple years from now. Due to circumstances beyond our control, these decisions are realized into results later. For example, the realization of the experience arena is being worked on actively. The City Council has already pledged themselves to the project”, Kronqvist states.

The study was conducted as an online survey and had a total of 2176 responses. The study was conducted by Kolmas Polvi Oy. The city strategy attraction study was finished in late 2023. The City Council has been informed of the topic in late February.