by Norris Mitchell
Chartered Architect & Urban Planner
The GBN “Beyond the Headlines” programme aired on the evening of Monday, 21 September 2015, with a panel of four, headed by Mr Timothy Antoine, gave in my view, a good account of itself by providing a progress report and to indicate the way forward – a vision, as opined by citizen William Joseph on the Sustainable Development Plan 2030, since its inception in May 2015.
The citizen caller however, made the fundamental observation that without a new Constitution which protects and uphold the rights and freedom of the ordinary Grenadian, Plan 2030 would be a will-o’-the-wisp event, so to speak — as the foundation (the Constitution) upon which it is [supposed] to be constructed would be unstable and therefore unable to support the “superstructure” of Plan 2030.
What also came out of the programme was the composition of the Technical Committee, which, if my memory serves me right was said to be made up of economists, bankers, financiers, academia (UWI, TAMCC & SGU); was there a lawyer? Can’t remember hearing this discipline mentioned, but I am sure they would be part of the committee.
What struck me most however, was the omission of a representative from the built environment, that is a professional architect or engineer.
This however, is not surprising, as the powers that be, including the Social Partners in this instance, together with the Grenadian public at large, appear not to appreciate the amenities of our built environment (the physical/man-made) and the natural environment in which we exist and move and have being. Evidence of this can be seen as we move around the country, in the lingering negative effects of Hurricane Ivan and Emily in both the man-made and natural environment — 11 years after, the residue of which is still with us.
In our Capital City of St George, which was described in 1988 by CARIMOS, the cultural arm of the Organization of American States (OAS) – as “a monument of the wider Caribbean”, our former house of parliament (York House), which was damaged by Hurricane Ivan in Sept. 2004, is left to deteriorate, as if the intention is to allow it to disintegrate (through neglect) into the ground, then remove the rubble to a safe place.
The neglect of our urban centres (our parish towns), in the absence of Local Government; should be of concern to the movers of Plan 2030, a case in point is the collapse of Hubble Bridge in the town of Gouyave a few days ago. The urban centre is where the majority of our population live, work, socialize and rear their families (the home), the social unit of the Grenadian society, especially the single parent home which is in need of urgent support in order to cope with the vicissitudes of the 21st century.
“The city is of civilization. Where there is no city there is no man”. The city is the most complex non-biological “organism” or para organism that has been invented and developed by man, which reflects the character and inherent quality of its people, as it strives to provide better health care, together with economic, social, commercial, spiritual, educational and cultural opportunities in a safe, structured and controlled urban environment, conducive to sustainable development and the path towards prosperity. To neglect or not give due recognition to the importance of the built and natural environment of our tri-island population, would be a tragic omission and a formula for failure in the evolving process of Plan 2030.