The greenest commune led by the Greens
There are green communes, and then there’s Watermael-Boitsfort. Tagged as the greenest of all the green communes in the Brussels region, it has a total area of 12.93 square kilometers of which 50 percent is taken up by the Sonian Forest. All in all, the commune incorporates nearly 30 percent of all green spaces in the region. Since most of these areas are uninhabited, Watermael-Boitsfort is also the least densely populated commune of Brussels.
Located in the southeastern quadrant of the region, Watermael-Boitsfort is inhabited by 24,871 people or only two percent of the regional population. Of all the Brussels communes, it has the least number of foreign inhabitants or less than one fifth of its population. By far, the French are the most represented in the commune, followed by the Italians, the Germans, and the British.
Watermael-Boitsfort is one of the most prosperous communes in the Brussels region. Its middle to upper class population yields a median income of €23,112 or approximately 21 percent more than the regional average. The financial, insurance, and real estate sectors constitute the economic backbone of the commune.
In Brussels political history, Watermael-Boitsfort is the first and only commune where Ecolo is the top governing party. It was formerly the bastion of regionalistic social liberals from the Democratic, Federalist, Independent party (DéFI) until Ecolo-Groen won the communal elections in 2012. Since then, the Green alliance has been working with the Reformist Movement (MR) and local party Gestion municipale Humaniste (GMH). DéFI became the minority, along with the Socialist Party (PS) and the Socialist Party Differently (sp.a).
The local government scored success in launching plans for the development of new housing and the expansion of a nursing home, and stabilizing the commune’s balance sheet. The legislature is also proud of efforts to preserve the Chant des Cailles farm, a collective urban agriculture project for sustainable food production. Critics point to the leadership’s failure to complete the renovation of Place Keym, one of the main centers of economic activity in Watermael-Boitsfort.
Will the Greens carry on as the leaders of Brussels’ greenest commune? We’ll see on October 14, 2018. The Ecolo-Groen alliance will have to re-outvote DéFI, PS, cdH which is banding together with independent candidates under the name Générations Humanistes, and MR which has teamed up with Gestion municipale.