Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg today brushed off criticism by fitness enthusiasts that taxpayer money was being wasted on amateur exercise equipment in public spaces.
“Whoever wants to go to the gym should pay a membership and go to a gym,” he said when asked about complaints about a recently-inaugurated space in Dingli.
“This is a space for those who enjoy doing some physical activity. I am content because at 6pm we inaugurated it and at 6.30pm there was a boy having fun. Whoever wants a gym can pay for a membership and go to a gym. I am content because the people of the area are content,” the former Dingli mayor said.
Borg thanked the architects involved and apologised to them for the online criticism, saying they were suffering the brunt for him being their minister.
Borg denied that the space was a “park”, as some have described it. Asked several times what term he would use to describe it, Borg said the ministry had issued a press statement about the project.
The press release describes the area as a “new open space, also equipped with parking facilities”.
Some €600,000 were spent on the project, €120,000 of which were used to build a large reservoir for water storage which would be used for watering the trees around the locality.
“This is a government in favour of green infrastructure and so from abandoned land we have transformed it into an accessible garden, with native trees and plants, gym equipment and a bus shelter for bus passengers as well. We have also seen that this space should be accessible through ramps and paving materials specially designed for people with disabilities. We are committed to continuing our work for the good of our communities,” the press release stated.
An early photo of the project had gone viral online with many criticising it as being an open space designed for cars.
A video published by popular online fitness community Bulletproof Culture showed how various outdoor gyms around Malta, including this one, actually discouraged activity instead of promoting it.
“Superficial structures like these devalue health and fitness in all aspects, from culture to environmental to physical,” they said in a video calling for better outdoor gym spaces especially in the context of Covid where gyms were shut down.
What do you think of the Minister’s comments?