BUSINESSMAN Gregory Aboud, head of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA), said the revitalisation of Port of Spain would also lift nearby areas of east Port of Spain.
He spoke in a panel discussion on Spotlight on Urban Development: The Revitalization of Port of Spain, on Monday at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain.
Amid worries that people might be fed up after decades of repeated plans for rejuvenation, Aboud declared, “We don’t feel jaded. An attractive market of working people comes to the city every day.
“East Port of Spain will develop again if we allow the core to develop.”
Also on the panel, banker Jason Julien said TT has $13 billion in excess reserves to be deployed, in line with the Government’s call for private-public partnerships to fund these revitalisation projects.
Later in the question session, from the floor National Trust head Margaret McDowall asked what incentives might be offered to preserve vernacular (local) architecture. Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis replied that incentives remain to be discussed.
A member of the public noted the plans for physical development but asked what about cultural development.
Architect Raul Poon King of the firm NLBA said a “regulating line” – to replace zonal regulation by the Town and Country Planning Division – will maintain an environment in places for events such as Cycling On The Avenue.
Aboud chimed in to call for a place where people can come and perform publicly: “The city of Port of Spain needs a stage.”
One property owner warned that nothing will happen until certain things relating to law and order are first put into place. He said despite a police station being just 400 feet away from a school in east Port of Spain, pupils cannot get to play freely.
Robinson-Regis said policing (including by municipal police officers) has already been increased considerably.
Urban planning consultant Grace LesFouris warned that flooding due to water from the Northern Range must be addressed before upgrading the capital city.
She added, “We need to get to the root of why people are moving out of Port of Spain and how to get them back in.”
Replying to a question on homelessness, Robinson-Regis said a court had ruled that you simply cannot remove people from the street. She said mayor Joel Martinez, the police and Ministry of Health were working assiduously to find a mechanism to deal with the issue. The capital has 52 homeless people, she said.