Sunday, April 21, 2024

EDITORIAL: Include small businesses in City plan

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UNBELIEVEABLE AND UNACCEPTABLE. This is perhaps the only way to describe the move by one vendor to erect a shack on the recently rehabilitated green space around the Constitution River in The City. His actions cannot be defended.
The tenacity of itinerant trader Mr Herbert Courtland in trying to build a permanent structure highlighted two fundamental points: he did not recognise that his actions were illegal; and the National Conservation Commission, which has responsibility for the upkeep of the area, was most definitely sleeping on the job. It tells of the low regard we as a people have for property belonging to the state. It can be used or abused with little consideration of the consequences.
The redevelopment of the Constitution River and the Church Village project to the tune of millions of dollars has done much to enhance the beauty of Bridgetown. These projects have not only given added appeal to this country’s capital, but at the same time removed some long-standing eyesores.
This move to use vacant land and to erect illegal structures in Bridgetown is something which has been a blemish on our past. The country cannot reflect with any pride on what took place many years ago at what was known as Rockers Alley on Broad Street, as well as in Temple Yard, Cheapside. They were both disasters in a modern, bustling city. Today the situation around the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal and the outdoor vendors market in Cheapside remains a disgrace, with garbage and debris strewn around the area.
The country must not return to a situation where either the Constitution River’s banks or the new green areas elsewhere are indiscriminately and illegally used – or rather misused. The reality, however, is the obvious business opportunities which Mr Courtland saw there to be exploited.
These areas offer significant opportunities for small business operators which the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc., as the executing agency for the redevelopment, should have spelt out when the projects were completed and handed over. Expressions of interest should also have been invited from business people for the utilisation of the areas.
While we are not the experts in this area, it is obvious to the naked eye that opportunities abound, from restaurants to small tour boat operators and for those in the cultural industries. It is going to be important that whatever is undertaken along these newly enhanced City spaces, it must be aesthetically pleasing and tie in with the environment.
Those responsible for these redeveloped areas must especially consider one point. The growth of business cannot be reserved for big business or those requiring large capital injections. The history and culture of the area must be respected and upheld, which means room for small business people. But not in the manner Mr Courtland went about it.

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