The funds are being raised as part of the ZaanIJ Area Deal: a collaboration between the province of North Holland, the government and the municipalities of Amsterdam, Zaanstad and Ostzan. About half of the 20 million goes to Amsterdam neighborhoods such as Toyndorp Ostzaan and Molenvik, while the other 10 million is used for deprived neighborhoods in Zaanstad.
Residents of these neighborhoods experience poor health, unemployment, educational deprivation, and crime at a higher than average rate. Many people feel unsafe in their area. These funds are intended to combat these problems. Neighborhoods must become greener, they must become safer (traffic), and young people must be given the same opportunities as children in other parts of the city.
Not the first collaboration
Amsterdam and Zaanstad work together because they both have older neighborhoods that face persistent quality of life issues and unequal opportunities. At the same time, many new neighborhoods are being built in both municipalities, where people with money come to live, making the differences even more pronounced.
Amsterdam and Zaanstad want to make improvements so that the neighborhoods become a full part of the district, so that fewer people are left behind, and the gap between old and new residents does not continue to widen. Municipalities are also using the funds to renovate nature reserves and highways between Amsterdam and Zaanstad.
Councilor Melanie van der Horst (Northern Approach) says this approach would be in line with wishes expressed by residents during meetings in recent years. In the short term, for example, something could be done about loose paving stones. In the long term, catabolic activities must be prevented from transferring to Ostzan.
Bicycle path from dam to dam
In 2019, Amsterdam and Zaanstad together raised €15 million in the context of the regional ZaanIJ deal. This included developing a ZaanIJ jobs plan to help 1,000 people from the region find work. Language lessons were also started in schools to eliminate disadvantages, and since then municipalities have worked more closely together in the fight against vandalism and crime.
The plan at that time was to build a new cycle route between Amsterdam and Zaandam: a dam-to-dam cycle route. This project was supposed to connect the green spaces surrounding the Noorder IJplas area to the densely populated neighborhoods surrounding it, but due to increased costs as a result of the energy crisis, these plans are uncertain. It is not yet known whether the new money bag will be used in part to realize the bike path.
In order for the government to be eligible to receive millions in support, it requires that the municipalities themselves contribute at least 50% of the total amount. Amsterdam and Zaanstad will therefore release another 10 million euros separately, bringing the total amount to 40 million euros. In Amsterdam, the funds fit well with the Nordic Approach, which the municipality launched in 2022 to structurally improve the area within 25 years.
This approach has become increasingly evident, especially in public spaces. “By renovating and improving the living environment in the neighbourhoods, we are truly enhancing the social well-being of residents,” says Yasmine Al-Kasayhi, District Director Amsterdam-Nord.