WITH the rapid urbanization of the Davao City and its neighboring cities, the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) in partnership with the neighboring local government units of the city met on Monday, November 20, for the first Public Consultation for the Metro Davao Urban Master Plan Project.

"The growth of Metropolitan Davao is accelerating. All around the Davao Gulf area we can see new investments sprouting up. This is essentially good.... We, however,

need to be a little circumspect about how all these actually contribute to a better quality of life for everyone. Our bottom-line should always be people," said

Minda Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Dangcal Alonto in his keynote message during the public consultation at the SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang Premier, Davao City.

The Metro Davao Urban Master Plan Project, which is also in partnership with leading architecture firm, Palafox Architecture, is being done to be able to cope with the rapid urbanization of Metro Davao and adequately prepare it for future developments in light of the increased interest in Davao and Mindanao as the new investments haven for the Philippines.

Minda said the master plan, which will be done in six to eight months, is aligned wth the vision of the Mindanao 20/20 Peace and Development Framework Plan and the strategies of the Mindanao Development Corridors Program.

The master plan will cover the urban areas along the Pan-Philippine Highway from the Digos City in Davao del Sur to Maco in Compostela Valley, traversing through the Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur, Davao City, Island Garden City of Samal, Panabo City, Municipality of Carmen, and Tagum City.

"While the Master Plan will essentially focus on the urban areas along the transport backbone, it is expected that the study will also take into account the land use and the socio-economic activities of the rural and sub-urban components of the municipalities and cities that compose Metro Davao, as well as the other areas around the Davao Gulf from Don Marcelino in Davao Occidental to San Isidro in Davao Oriental," Minda said.

The study will also consider previous plans -- the Davao Region C.O.R.E Growth Triangle Spatial Development Strategy and the Davao Integrated Development Program (DIDP) -- that cover the same or a substantial part of the Metro Davao area.

Minda said when completed, the master plan will: identify the comparative strengths and functional roles of the different areas within Metro Davao with the end-goal of complementation and alignment of policies, programs and projects; identify solutions to shared challenges including transport efficiency, provision of urban services, among others; aid national agencies, Local Government Units, and the private sector in planning and implementing development endeavors within Metro Davao and its influence areas; serve as a guide for Local Government Units in updating their respective Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs) taking into account the land use and socio-economic dynamics not only within their political boundaries but the impact and influence of adjacent areas as well; promote and facilitate more investments and economic activities within Metro Davao and the adjacent areas; and support the creation of more formal alliances between the Local Government Units especially on matters pertaining to policies and regulations.

For his part, architect Felino Palafox, Jr. said they are also looking into other cities, like Dubai, for inspiration for the urban planning of Metro Davao.

"I want this project to be a model for the rest of the world...the big challenge will be the implementation. Now we are doing the vision and the planning," said Palafox.