Letters & Opinion

Revamping the City Can Create New Employment Opportunities, but…

Image of the Government Printery
Image of Carlton Ishmael
By Carlton Ishmael

THESE days the frontline story is about demolition and rebuilding. As for me, I think both are necessary, but I have my reservations about the methods used and the purposes for the desired changes.

From a historic prospective, i think that some of the condemned buildings can be given another life – meaning: they can be rebuilt preserved and used for other purposes. And on the other side of the coin, one has to assess their structural integrity.

As for the printery, the court house and the House of Parliament, I personally believe that they should be preserved and be put into use for other purposes, such as a possible art gallery, a national museum, or any other use in relation to our culture.

As for the old customs sheds, rebuild them to accommodate tourism-related projects because of location and its relationship to the port of call for cruise ships.

I further suggest that all the other existing CDC buildings be demolished and make way for a national bus terminal and small business endeavours, to recreate business in the city center.

The old jail house, the Police Band room and old police station — what we still term as Police Head Quarters can be rebuilt to facilitate related projects, inclusive of the new court house, but the intention must be communicated to all relevant stakeholders, such as the National Trust, the persons responsible for historic preservation of buildings, city planners etc.

The problem we face is the lack of communication, as well as the ‘independent’ methods used by the government in implementing their intended policies.

The people must be informed about these plans — and if necessary, dialogue, consultation and debate should be part of the process before implementation.

I do not agree that some of these buildings should be replaced with green space just for touristic purposes. I feel that replacement should take into consideration the need for employment opportunity, as well as the revival of the Dead City of Castries.

Over the years, all progressive planning was geared to development in Rodney Bay and the northern zone and the cost of city rental because of the ‘per square foot’ philosophy has not been encouraging for new businesses, especially amongst the grass root people’s

There is great opportunity for a city revival crusade, but the people’s needs must be factored into the equation. It cannot be only about development for the tourists and affluent persons only. We need to revamp our thinking, taking into consideration that we must create business opportunities for our people — and not just a selected few.

It is like we are building and recreating this country for foreign interests. I get the impression that the grassroots people are not included in the Development Plan, hence the reason the Grass Street Derek Walcott project was scrapped.

We blame a sector of our people for the perpetuation of crime and lawlessness, but do nothing to give them new hope or something to aspire to.

We must start creating a vision for the future that not only sees planning within a five-year circle.

Government seems to be only thinking of doing just enough to retain their governance, but caring little about the big picture.

I hope that with time, such thinking will change.

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