Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Letter of the Day | Time for new thinking on public beaches

Published:Thursday | January 12, 2017 | 1:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

We have been reading with interest the debate opened on public beaches due to the fact that Winnifred Beach in Portland has been fighting for years to be respected as the only public beach in the area; as heritage site for Portlanders and visitors; and as community place, which allows everybody to enjoy the beach without a fee, without a fence, and with a warm welcome to everyone.

We have created a Benevolent Society to become our formal voice to dialogue with the institutions and to advocate to the rights of having a community place in each area of Jamaica.

Access to the beach is basically impossible in long stretches along the north coast, and our vision is not only to defend Winnifred but to defend the right to access all public beaches.

In many countries in the Caribbean and across the world, access to sea is considered a right. In Jamaica, a so-called public beach is only a beach where people can go without being barred for not paying an entrance fee.

Our idea is that a public beach should seek funds for its maintenance from the parish corporation and engage in projects to develop the beach itself. It may be interesting to use the beach to teach students about environment - sand-mining rules and regulations, the protection of turtles, and the protection of reefs, as they engage in birdwatching, ecotourism, and plastic collection.

There are many ways to improve a beach without damaging the environment. We ned to develop them as places where elders, churches, families and friends can gather to have community activities and moments of peaceful relaxation and recreation.

Free Winnifred is particularly grateful to the Jamaica Environment Trust and its CEO Diana McCaulay for their support and commitment, and to IRIE FM for its strong support. We all share a vision for free spaces, for community places, and for the right not to be excluded.

Maria Carla Gullotta

Coordinator

Free Winnifred Benevolent Society

Portland

carlajamaica51@gmail.com