Kingstown needs to be spruced up
One of the most remarkable developments in this country’s history has been the construction of the Argyle International Airport. The completion of the airport also now has corollary effects, including the plans now afoot to build new hotels in the Mount Wynne / Peter’s Hope area and another close to the airport. Indeed, we have already seen the increase of visitors to our country even without new hotels being completed.
Necessarily we have to answer the question: what amenities and leisure activities would we be offering to our visitors? What can we do to improve the experience our visitors have when they visit our country?
Of course the rote answer is that we want to give them the greatest experience that we can. We want them to enjoy the beauty of our country, unique sites and activities and the warmth and hospitality of our people.
This is good in the abstract, but translating them into concrete manifestations is not as easy as we would like it to be. It is in this regard that the appearance of Kingstown should command our attention. The city has obvious attractions to any tourist. It carries the heritage of its 18th century architecture in a 21st century universe. In the St George’s Cathedral, the St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Kingstown Methodist Church, our capital city offers powerful reminders of how Vincentians have performed and continue to perform rituals of worship in the same places for more than 200 years. And of course we have Fort Charlotte, the Botanic Gardens, and many other legacies that carry an inherent appeal to our visitors.
Though the attractions of Kingstown as an historic city are many, few would argue that we have properly leveraged our city in encouraging our visitors to enjoy these attractions. And one of the key limitations comes directly from the 18th century: our drainage system. Some areas of Kingstown are just above sea level – and absent sufficient gradient, water does not move easily through some parts of our water channels. So some re-engineering is necessary to reduce the presence of standing water with all of the problems which flow from this.
Modernizing our drainage system is quite properly the province of our government. But private enterprises have much to gain by engaging in the beautification of Kingstown. In most instances, a coat of paint would offer a different and very attractive look to their businesses and would encourage customers to visit these establishments. Perhaps the government could consider offering tax credits for private entrepreneurs to remodel and/or repaint and beautify their businesses. Vincentians have shown a remarkable artistic imagination in the ways in which we have beautified our houses. There is no question that we can beautify Kingstown if we are given sufficient incentives. And all of us would certainly benefit if visitors to our country are struck by the beauty of our city.
Despite the good work by our Solid Waste Management Unit and workers from the Public Health Department, far too much garbage still ends up on the sidewalks and in our gutters. We all as individuals and members of the private sector need to take greater ownership of the state of our city. Businesses make arrangements with private garbage disposal companies to remove their waste, but in between when the garbage is put out and when it is collected, there is too much opportunity for individuals and animals to make a mess. Despite widespread education programmes, we still see far too much litter being thrown from vans, in the gutters as people walk by, and in the flower pots placed to beautify the town.
We have laws on our books to punish those who wilfully litter and make a mess of the town. We need to prosecute those responsible and start making public examples of them.
Beautifying Kingstown would obviously strengthen its appeal to tourists. But even more importantly, it would provide those of us who live here with a much healthier environment in which to live, work and bring up our children; and of course, allow us to showcase our city with pride.