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New task force to tackle urban development

New task force to tackle urban development

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Minister of Urban Development, Culture and Electoral matters, Hon. Rene Baptiste, has made it abundantly clear she will continue to do her best to see the continued development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Minister Baptiste made this disclosure at the official launch of a new multidisciplinary task force at the Peace Memorial Hall last Tuesday morning.{{more}}

The members of the task force were nominated by Minister Baptiste in her own deliberate judgment and approved by cabinet in February 2006.

The task force comprises a number of government ministers and representatives from the Ministries of Planning, Finance, Transport and Works, National Properties, Chief Surveyors office, the Kingstown Board, the Central Water and Sewerage Authority, Vinlec, the Labour Department and the National Labour Congress.

The outspoken minister noted that she took a crash course in urban development by taking lectures online from the University of Washington. According to Baptiste, “You cannot lead if you have no idea what you are leading about.” She added that she did not want to come to something and not know what it encompasses.

The minister outlined that in modern times, largely uncontrolled expansion of commercial activity within the city has greatly exceeded the carrying capacity of the existing infrastructure and environmental resources. In addition, communities like Rose Place, Paul’s Avenue and Quarry have become further marginalised as the more resourceful residents move out, only to make way for negative elements who now influence community life.

She stressed that the centre of administration and commerce has now become a choke point for the transportation system. Traffic jams, river pollution, unauthorised vending, illegal temporary structures in the sea front, vagrancy and anti-social behaviour have all combined to create tremendous challenges to policy makers and planners alike, in the drive to renew and revitalise the city and environs.

She outlined the purpose of the task force is to formulate an overarching framework and master plan for urban development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She said much emphasis would be placed on Kingstown and its environs.

Some of the specific objectives outlined by Minister Baptiste were to critically assess the urban decay in Rose Place, Paul’s Avenue and Quarry and recommend options to address this decay; to advise on the development options for critical public places such as Heritage Square, Little Tokyo, China Town and the Central Market. The budget allotted for the task force is $200,000 and they will be expected to complete their work in six months. “We are talking the bull by the horn and taming it,” expressed Baptiste.

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