The revitalisation of Bridgetown cannot be looked at without considering what is happening in suburban Barbados – they must go hand-in-hand.
This view was expressed last evening by President of the Barbados Town Planning Society, Dr. Yolanda Alleyne, as she addressed the Urban Development Commission’s public lecture, entitled: A New Urban Agenda ??? A Barbadian Context.
Underscoring that Bridgetown and the suburbs must grow in a complementary way, Dr. Alleyne told the large audience that if the City was revitalised but there were no controls on how the suburbs should develop, it would be a waste because people would still not be going to Bridgetown.
She continued: ???[There are] several things we are dealing with in our urban area that need to be addressed in an integrative way.??? Asking if the City centre and suburbs were competing or complementing each other, she stated: ???At the moment, it would appear that they are competing. As the suburban centres grow, Bridgetown declines, and they are all interconnected.???
She pointed out that the suburban areas such as Warrens, and Sky Mall in Haggatt Hall, were dealing with the same problems, namely, traffic congestion. She suggested that the fortunes of the City and the suburbs were tied together and contended that officials could not plan for one without the other.
Dr. Alleyne also expressed the view that more attention must be paid to Bridgetown, the Capital City. Noting that Barbados is a tourist-oriented destination, she pointed out that visitors always expected to see a vibrant and alive city. Acknowledging the UNESCO inscription of Historic Bridgetown, she proffered the view that it should be culturally distinctive, well connected, secure and resilient, productive and efficient, sustainable and maintainable.
She lamented that there were unused and derelict buildings in the urban area; some of the heritage properties were often under-utilised; and there was poor separation between vehicles and people who would prefer to ride or walk.
???Our urban areas are also very vulnerable… We have a lot of things on the coastline that make us very vulnerable, particularly our main economic sectors ??? tourism, fisheries, port, [and] shipping…. Our main town centres ??? Bridgetown, Holetown, Speightstown – are all located on the coastal edge. All of these, when you think of the impacts of climate change, become more vulnerable to storm surge, [and] hurricanes…,??? she explained.
Dr. Alleyne pointed out that the urban planning and management systems in the Caribbean tended to be embedded in long-standing colonial laws and regulations that did not necessarily always attack current problems. ???As a result, our urban development in our Caribbean States tends to take place in a rather informal and sometimes unsustainable manner,??? she remarked.
She added that because of Barbados’ focus, its urban issues would be different from those in Trinidad or Jamaica, and the country would therefore have to come up with suitable solutions.