Holness reveals plans for increased urban development

PRIME Minister Andrew Holness on Tuesday revealed plans for a handout of $252 million to Members of Parliament (MPs) seeking financial support for community renewal interventions.

Holness told parliamentarians that Government recognises the impact of urban decay and blight on the socio-economic fabric of the society, as well as the threat to sustainable development in many communities islandwide. He said that community renewal interventions will provide a platform for the co-ordination and enhancement of the delivery of public services to all volatile and vulnerable communities.

“Consequently, the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC) has developed an urban renewal and development programme as part of its mandate to strategically co-ordinate and implement urban renewal projects for the sustainable transformation of communities and towns across Jamaica,” the prime minister said.

He added that the ministry will be working in tandem with all the MPs progressively working to transform urban spaces.

“Therefore, I wish to advise the House that $4 million will be made available to all constituencies for the implementation of specific projects under Phase I of this urban renewal development programme,” he informed the House.

Holness noted that the projects to be undertaken must focus on infrastructure, and will focus on zinc fence removal and replacement with approved materials. He stated that the changing face of the communities will include removing unsightly fences, and adding more creative spaces, as well as providing more streetlights which will require the intervention of the municipal authorities.

He argued that the full programme will be made up into two phases — Phase I, which will involve all constituencies benefiting, because each one has some element of urban areas in them; and Phase 2, which focused on the mandate of the department in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation focusing exclusively on constituencies that have urban areas.

Members of Parliament are to submit project proposals that detail the location, rationale for selection, estimated duration and impact of the project to the ministry by July 14. The ministry’s Urban Renewal and Development Branch will provide technical assistance, including evaluation of project proposals and site assessment.

“All projects must be completed within budget and only commence after assessment is conducted and approvals granted,” he noted. He added that he is looking forward to the implementation of the project and the positive impact it will have on lives in urban communities.

Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding welcomed the idea, pointing out that he was pleased to see an additional $4 million being spent on the types of projects already outlined by the prime minister.

“I am looking forward to see what the Phase 2 will look like, the budget for it and types of activities will be permitted,” Golding, who represents the inner-city constituency of St Andrew Southern, responded.

He also acknowledged the intervention of the prime minister into the state of high-rise buildings constructed in his constituency over the years, and which are now in danger of collapsing with failing staircases.

“I know you are working on that and I want to thank you for that and, I am sure, for the urban Members of Parliament,” he said.