The mayor of a remote mountain village in Italy is offering to pay €2,000 ($3,000 CAD) to anyone who moves there, in an attempt to save it from becoming a ghost town.
Those who take up residence in Bormida, which sits 420 metres above sea level in the north-west Liguria region and is home to 394 people, will pay as little as $75 a month in rent.
Mayor Daniele Galliano’s is incentivizing people to visit his village where the population has decreased dramatically in recent decades as young people move away to find work in larger cities.
The finer details of the cash offer still needed to be ironed out and approved by the local council, Galliano wrote on his Facebook page. But if all goes ahead, from next year anyone who transfers their residence to Bormida and either rents or buys a property there will be gifted €2,000 or $3000 CAD.
And under the low rent scheme, which should be in place within the next two months, a small property will cost just €50 a month while a more spacious one will be no more than €120.
“We’re still working out the plan, but anyone is welcome to come and live here,” said a local councillor, who asked not to be named. “We’re a small community but very welcoming. We’re high up in a mountain area but also not far from the sea – it’s a healthy lifestyle, the air is very clean.”
Galliano’s Facebook post was met with a flurry of responses from potential new inhabitants, with some saying they would renounce the cash gift in return for a job in the town.
“Mr Mayor, I’m available to move and give up the €2,000, but I can’t live off air. I have a family with two small children, if you can guarantee a job, even the most humble one, it wouldn’t be a problem,” wrote Amedeo Alloca. Life would definitely be free of stress.”
A report last year by Legambiente, an Italian environmental association, found that 2,500 villages across the country risked being abandoned owing to depopulation.
In January the culture ministry named 2017 the “year of the village” as part of an attempt to promote tourism in places at risk of becoming deserted.