‘Make cities more unique’ – NEPA
Developers are being called upon to do their part in providing for the needs of all members of society when implementing development and infrastructural projects.
Leonard Francis, director of the Spatial Planning Division at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), who was speaking with The Gleaner in recognition of World Town Planning Day which was celebrated on Saturday, said it is imperative that going forward plans are put in place to make cities more unique.
"A city should really satisfy the needs and vision of a people. No two cities should look alike. Our aim should not be to copy the model of another city. What persons need to understand is that every city has a different mood, feeling, the very smell is unique and so as policymakers we have to work overtime in ensuring that our cities are conducive to development," he declared.
"I'm longing for the day when cities are resilient, businesses are up and after a disaster, the recovery process is fast. When we look over the world the rich middle class and the poor live in cities.
"Kingston, however, is a challenge. How many rich families would move downtown (Kingston)?" he asked, whilst making reference to the theme, 'Equality in the City: Making Cities Socially Cohesive'.
"You want a city where you can walk from Red Hills to Half-way Tree without endangering yourself. A city where there are more green spaces and parks and other recreational facilities are developed. And it can be done," he added.
Persons with disabilities
He also pointed out that work is under way to cater more to persons living with disabilities.
"It's something that has been said quite often but now more than ever we realise that our cities must be more conducive to these persons," Francis told The Gleaner.
"When this happens, what we are going to see are wider sidewalks with slopes at different areas. Access to buildings will be easier, we should have wider doors, urinals and toilets should be lower and accessible. These are some of the things we are looking at and as an agency we know we have a role to play."
He charged, "Most importantly, we cannot have a city where all citizens do not have equal access to opportunities. No matter what class, race or sex. I am convinced it can be done because when I travel to other countries and I sit and talk to people they are not much better than us, the only difference is that the people have a vision and they stick to it and for us we must implement development orders and stick to them."