In Issue 11 of The Grapevine, we featured the Reykjavík city planning ideas currently being debated by the different parties who will be fighting for city council’s fifteen seats this spring. Among others, we spoke to Vilhjálmur Þ. Vilhjálmsson of the Independence Party, whose ideas included developing the islands west of Reykjavík into areas for single-family homes and the creation of a freeway running through the middle of the city to connect these neighbourhoods to the mainland. One of the more contentious areas of Reykjavík, Vatnsmýri (the current site of the city airport), was left out of his platform at that time, as there have been and still are disagreements within the Independence Party as to what they would do with the area if they took city council.
But then on the television station Stöð 2’s Ísland í dag last Tuesday, Vilhjálmsson, who was being interviewed with Reykjavík mayor and Social Democrat Steinunn Valdís Óskarsdóttir, announced that he had “been thinking about the matter for some time” and had come to the decision that, “If elected mayor, I would focus myself on building up the Vatnsmýri area into an apartment and employment development, and move the airport out of the area.”
Óskarsdóttir was visibly surprised to hear the news and responded, “Welcome to this group who want the airport gone.”
The news also came as a surprise to us, especially since one of the founding platforms of the Independence Party of city council is the further encouragement of single-family homes.
As Vilhjálmsson told The Grapevine himself in Issue 11’s feature, “Most people want to live in single-family homes, and that’s why there’s been this flight into the suburbs. There are now people moving as far afield as Hveragerði and Selfoss. We want to keep families in Reykjavík.”
Vilhjálmsson’s announcement also comes in the wake of a recent Fréttablaðið poll, which showed him trailing behind former television personality Gísli Marteinn Baldursson in their party’s fight for the mayoral office. Perhaps Vilhjálmsson’s recent shift of focus will win him more support, as he has now decided on a city planning idea that shows more sustainability than any other Independence Party planning idea so far – even if it is an idea already being touted by the Social Democrats.