Letters & Opinion

People’s Manifesto – Creating A New Castries

WE cannot continue to allow the decay of the city of Castries and bold and decisive steps must be taken to save the city. We believe that to enhance the attractiveness of Castries demands ensuring that there are good conditions for business, residents and visitors.

What will make Castries attractive to the business sector?
What will make Castries attractive for residents to remain in the city?
What will make Castries attractive to the local and foreign visitor?

We believe that if we ask ourselves these fundamental questions that the platform would be set for Castries to be the most exciting city in the Caribbean.

We are proposing the following interventions as prioritized projects for Castries. We have defined the zone of influence of Castries to be from the Vigie junction including Vigie along the La Clery Road up to La Pansee into the Morne du Don Rd down to Bocage into Entrepot then up to Bagatelle across to the Morne down the La Toc Road.

Parking in Castries is now a nightmare and the attractiveness of the city is significantly being diminished because of the lack of parking facilities. We intend to create a Park and Ride system at the Vigie Junction in the lands just north of the runway. The intent is to provide the possibility for residents of the north to park on the outskirts of the city and take a bus into Castries. The second concept is for only short stay on street parking in the Central Business District for up to two hours. All long stay parking will be accommodated in a new Multi Storey Car Park south of Brazil Street.

Two major bus terminals will be built. The terminal to the north of Castries will be built in Conway, with the removal of that section as part of the urban renewal initiatives. The terminal to the south of Castries will be built over the Castries River and incorporate the present land being used as the Vieux Fort bus stand. This will be a multi-storey building to cater for all buses travelling south of Castries. All on street parking of buses will be removed.

With the removal of a significant quantity of the vehicles in the central business district, the conversion to green spaces shall begin. A new programme dubbed GOING GREEN shall be implemented. This programme will involve the restoration of the King George V Park to its former glory. GOING GREEN involves landscaping and the use of renewable energy in every function within the green spaces. The POND in the Park will be covered to create an outdoor Cultural Stage. This project will consist of constructing columns within the pond to support a new slab above the pond. This removes the present visual scar and creates usable space. All the lighting within the Park will be using renewable energy; irrigation will be from rain water harvesting. The entire park will have free Wi Fi.

The William Peter Boulevard will be pedestrianized and the similar GOING GREEN initiatives pursued. The Derek Walcott square will also be refurbished as part of GOING GREEN.

There will be legislative changes to allow the State to demolish any structure that is a public health and safety concern. The legislation to be drafted will allow recovery of these costs, with the State placing a caution on the property which will be removed on the payment of the cost of demolition and continued maintenance and associated interest over the period. Once the legislation is approved, all these derelict and abandoned buildings will be demolished. The business community must play a role in making Castries attractive and this present practice of leaving large quantities of garbage overnight will not be tolerated. We intend to pass legislation which places huge fines for this activity, and the legislation will empower any citizen to bring it to the attention of the City Council and be rewarded.

The present configuration of that block from Jn Baptiste Street/Darling Road/John Compton Highway and Jeremie Street cannot continue as it is now. You cannot have your city descend into an expanded rum shop. The entire section of old housing units within that block will be demolished. A series of multi- storey apartment buildings of studio and one bedroom units will be built with commercial space for young entrepreneurs in IT Technology and other support services to the Central Business District.

We believe that the flooding in Castries can be solved by engineering intervention. It is our intent to ensure that this annual occurrence of flooding in Castries is removed. We believe that the solution lies in understanding the upper catchment, the existing drainage regime and the possible enhancements. Both pump houses will be fitted with generators to ensure functionality when there is loss of power. As it was in the past, a pump house attendant will be hired for each pump house, and will be given responsibility to ensure the pumps are in continuous working condition. The urban drainage system will be reviewed and a full maintenance schedule will be developed in consultation between the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Castries City Council.

We intend to make Castries the most attractive place to work, to live and to be entertained.

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