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(PRESS RELEASE) — Staff and students of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College added their voices to the discussion on a new vision for Castries dubbed Castries 2030.
The Government of St. Lucia has tasked the National Integrated Planning and Programme Unit (NIPP) in the Ministry of Finance, in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), to articulate the Castries Vision 2030 redevelopment plan.
Stakeholder consultations have been integral to the development of this plan, with the aim of gathering suggestions from a wide cross section of the St. Lucian society. The aim is to make Castries more resilient to climate change by aligning the city to some of the international conventions government has signed onto dealing with sustainable cities and communities, compact mixed-use developments whilst making the city more socially inclusive.
The planning team held one such consultation with staff and students of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC).
Director for NIPP, Haward Wells, said the interaction with the students was vital to close certain gaps.
“And we thought it was an exciting opportunity when the college invited us over to get the students involved. Let them air their views, let them express what they see the future of Castries is as it relates to the ongoing process.”
He added that in the spirited interaction the students highlighted issues with traffic congestion, the minibus situation, the Castries market, flooding in part of the city, and other environmental concerns.
Lecturer at the Division of Technical Education and Management Studies (DTEMS), Karyeen Cenac Hippolyte, was pleased with the level of participation and contributions from the students.
“DTEMS is very technical and a project like this is very, very relevant to students here to get the practical experience, to understand how what they learn here can translate to this that we have discussed here. So for the students it’s getting their hands-on experience, meeting with persons who are actually doing this kind of work, and seeing how it could affect them and even the course they do here.”
For their part the students were very expressive about what they would like see in a redeveloped Castries.
Kamisha Harris studies Architectural Technology at DTEMS said: “Honestly the way Castries is right now, it’s not conducive to pedestrians. There’s a lot of traffic, it’s very polluted and there are no green spaces. I would honestly like to see more green spaces in Castries, places you can just sit. Because as it is right now, yes we have new stores, new buildings coming up and it’s being modernized in a way but the way that they are doing it it’s not thinking about the people aspect. For you to get somewhere to sit, you have to go to a store and you need to buy something, sometimes you just want to relax and the only green space that we have right now is at Serenity Park which is very outside of the city limits.”
Construction engineering student, Canem Joseph, stated that the appearance, facilities and infrastructure in Castries does not reflect that of a capital.
“Well the shops and businesses seem akin to that of a small town than a city. In areas like Gros Islet there are bigger shops, bigger malls and things like that. At this point it looks like Gros Islet is more of a capital than Castries.”
The NIPP director stated that as the planning phase moves ahead consultations are scheduled to take place with residents and land owners from Castries to facilitate their direct feedback on the Castries Vision 2030 project.