Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
ST ANN should see improvement in several areas for 2013 if pronouncements by various sector leaders in the parish are anything to go by. Days into the new year, several of these persons have stated their priorities for the parish this year.
Leopold Williams, president of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce which represents a wide cross section of the business community in the parish, told The Gleaner that the chamber will be holding the Government accountable.
"We have decided as a chamber to hold the Government accountable to some of the promises they have made," Williams said. "We want to see some of the plans going forward. We want the politicians to come straight with the people, because we have to make plans and we can't make any long-term plans unless somebody says what is definitely going to happen."
Williams said the chamber will also plan several fund-raising events "to do some of the lobby to get things done in the town (Ocho Rios)."
Increase market share
Vana Taylor, who represents both the Jamaica Association of Villas and Apartments and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (Runaway/Ocho Rios Chapter), said the main focus for the tourism-related organisations is to increase market share for the area, both in terms of stopover and cruise ship arrivals.
"And we will be working with the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and other related agencies to see how we can improve the resort town of Ocho Rios," Taylor said.
Cooperation should be coming from the Ocho Rios Resort Board, in this regard, as board chairman Dr Roosevelt Crooks said, the main focus this year will be to get Ocho Rios up and running at an international standard.
"We will be engaging all stakeholders, including NSWMA (National Solid Waste Management Authority), NWA (National Works Agency), JHTA (Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association), Chamber, Fire Department, and the police in this effort," Crooks said.
"We have to make sure the police and fire service have the equipment they need, we have to make sure all refuse and garbage are moved in a timely manner, we have to streamline vending, cut down on sign pollution. It's also important that stakeholders be responsible for the front of their houses."
Crooks expressed the need for an adoption policy, which could help in this regard. He also said the NSWMA needs to stand up to its responsibility. "And if they have to issue tickets for garbage in front of business places, then they should do so. The law is there."
He also spoke of plans to pedestrianise Main Street, Ocho Rios on ship days and expressed hope that by March the resort town would have "bounced back" from the cruise ship setback it has been experiencing over the last two seasons.
"Hopefully, more persons will sign on to the good governance of the town and, with that, we should be able to move forward."
Meanwhile, Gina Tulloch-Adams of THREAD Foundation said her organisation would be expanding its reach in the community this year by engaging in activities that would benefit more than just children.
Mayor of St Ann's Bay Councillor Desmond Gilmore speaking ahead of a meeting of all 16 councillors on Thursday, said the council would be seeking to implement some of the plans that councillors had drafted at a retreat at the beginning of the term.
Gilmore also said that much needs to be done to address the social ills affecting Ocho Rios.
"We need to do something about the street people, the mentally ill and the drug addicts," Gilmore said.