Magistrate concerned that island may be sacrificing human development

Is house building in Barbados reflective of the people and their customs, or is it an imitation of what is happening structurally in the developed world?

These were some of the hard questions that arose at an Urban Development Commission discussion forum last night, following a presentation made by Magistrate Christopher Birch on non-physical challenges facing Barbados’ urban landscape.

Where is the human in urban development, asks Magistrate Christopher Birch.
UDC Director Derek Alleyne was concerned about re-injecting Barbadian culture into the people.
Speaker Michael Carrington found fault in conditions of real estate sales.
Cleveston Hunte believes social challenges arise from urban planning.

“The temptation of our increasingly technocratic age is to give more emphasis to the development of infrastructure, layout and provision of services, along with environmental sustainability and service provision,” Birch asserted before the audience which gathered in the UDC conference room.

However, the magistrate expressed concern that while the island may well be fulfilling the letter of the legislation and attaining the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, it may well be overlooking its actual human development.

“What is being done to reinforce the human factor in urban development?” Birch asked aloud.

“It is easy to claim that in this century, infrastructural and service innovation is well ahead of where Barbados was at independence. After all, health care, housing, roads and communications are all at a comparatively advanced level when compared to times past and in other countries.

“That said, could it be that in providing the modern trappings of human living, Barbados may have paid too much heed to the physical needs of the country and not the human needs of the population?”

Also taking part in the discussion, Director of Youth Cleveston Hunte, a former probation officer, said, “there are a number of social development challenges which arise as a result of how we plan our city, our urban areas.

“What has lagged behind is the human development side, in terms of the actual development of our people,” he said.

Strong concern was also raised about the island’s changing cultural and social norms, which are reflected in the current housing patterns. It was pointed out that in the not so distant past, Barbadians lived in tight-knit communities in which neighbours knew each other well and it was commonplace to walk over to your neighbour to borrow emergency food supplies, such as salt and sugar when the kitchen stock fell low.

However, Chief Town Planner, Mark Cummins said that despite the best efforts of planners, it was hard nowadays to control the mix of persons going into respective dwelling units, with Church Village, St Philip being the planning exception.

He explained that while this area has the same terrace units like any other place in Barbados, “careful selection” was made of persons to live there, including police officers, nurses, teachers and other professionals.

This may explain why there have been no reports of social problems – including problems of crime – in that area, Cummins also suggested.

“We continue to put [together] people that we feel are of the same social class. And in so doing it reduces the hard work that the planners would have put in to ensure that [social] structure is there,” the chief town planner said.

Cummins also made reference to the Grotto housing development at Beckles Road, St Michael, saying “you cannot ask for better space in terms of its location” and comparing it with private sector developments which he said were “not as aesthetically pleasing as the Grotto”, but which fetch rentals from $4,000 to $8,000 per month.

“What we should do is ensure that we have a mix of persons. We have the youth, we can have some seniors in there so all the traditions . . . can be passed on and those public spaces can then become spaces of education,” Cummins further suggested.

Also in attendance was Speaker of the House of Assembly Michael Carrington, who questioned whether stipulations and covenants in property transfers could be a factor in social dislocation as these conveyances usually include rules on how properties should be separated and the minimum expenses to be involved in any construction.

“In addition to the price of the land, they tell you can’t build guard walls as an example for less than a certain amount,” he said.

In response, Magistrate Birch observed that “alienation is very much a part of the human landscape.

“We build that wall and we build that wall and it gets higher and it gets stronger,” he said, while referring to the period prior to the 20th century when Barbados was very separated.

“A day will come where we are going to look around and [realize] we’re back where we started,” he warned.

Source: (GA)

12 Responses to Magistrate concerned that island may be sacrificing human development

  1. Steve Jemmott
    Steve Jemmott August 10, 2017 at 8:25 am

    …keep your statements coming Magistrate Birch, I haven’t heard such insightful revelations like these coming from a top official for a long time.

  2. Samantha walker August 10, 2017 at 8:56 am

    A proper education system would help with regard to human development, the masses are Afro-caribbeans that dont know their history, that should be number one on the list for human development….Knowledge is the Key, Information is Power !!

    Less talk and more action to find out what the people need rather than 10 years of rhetoric and no actions…..Nothing can develop unless you move from standing still (talk, talk and more talk) whilst other countries implement new ways and adjust change things for the better…..In 10 years Barbados have been innovative in creating more taxes, thats the only thing the Leaders think about, money and more money. The “Love” of money is the root of all evil, watch how Barbados has fallen because of “so-called development”.

    And quote: health care, housing, roads and communications are all at a comparatively advanced level when compared to times past and in other countries.

    What countries are you comparing our health care, roads and communications to….obviously it should be better than the past, because we should always be progressing but you cant say these are better than Canada, USA or the UK. Its strange we adopt the Europeans ways of doing most things, but their standards that are better, we dont seem to adopt…… I wouldnt say the above was at an advanced level not by International standards, you can only compare it to caribbean countries and most are lacking an advanced standard.

    • Jennifer August 10, 2017 at 11:41 am

      Samantha – True. And what roads is he comparing Barbados with?????? Can only be DEVELOPING COUNTRIES and this is why development will be just that. This middle class is just another big divide.

  3. Sharon Taylor
    Sharon Taylor August 10, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Dem same police, nurses etc etc dat wunna pick to live where ever, wait till their brats get to age, more criminals bout d place! Wunna want to define ppl by their neighbourhoods! Wdh… Wa a man tried to rob me outta a car, he end up theiffing d trunk and does tell all kinda ppl all kinda things bout me… Ppl does still be tellin me dat d man say dis or dat bout me! And he from d rashole terraces, he got police, customs and immigration friends, dat help he try to rob me! Wunna need to stop d rashole stigmatization tho! Some good and decent ppl come from d nelson st areas…. I hate when idiots open their mouths, that’s why ppl wid AIDS and HIV still hiding in this lil island, because of blatant stigmatization… It would never end, when d so- called brilliant minds still so badword narrow-minded! Who don’t agree wid my post plz keep moving, cause I does be passionate bout this kind of ignorance!

    • VoR August 15, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      Thank you Ms.Taylor. The area one comes from doesn’t define one’s character. Yes you may have more criminal elements in certain areas but it doesn’t mean that all persons in these areas are bad.

      There are crooks living in gated communities and villas. *sips tea*

  4. Jennifer August 10, 2017 at 11:30 am

    This article is demonstrative of basic incite and lacks indepth study and connection to us a people. The first and last paragraphs are the most important in this article. What are the customs of this people???¿?. Are the customs of this people mere reflections of assimilation and trending. Huumm. The sacrificing of human development i.e black masses started long ago with the IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OPPRESSORS SYSTEMS OF EDUCATION, RELIGION, JUDICIARY, AND POLITICAL. FARCES.

  5. Christopher A Oliver
    Christopher A Oliver August 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    I am listening

  6. John king August 10, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Not a thing wrong with the houses.
    It’s the mind set of those who live in them

  7. John king August 10, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    We have enough education and schools and qualifications, yet we are ostracized in our own democracy this has restricted our human development as a result of dictatorship by a few political Negrocrats.

  8. L King August 12, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    I live in a so called developed country and let me tell you know we have a high rate of homelessness unemployment and sadly some can’t read and write to good. Some of the government housing conditions are terrible.

    But yes. Certain areas attract the professionals: there is a divide and class system here that is still very active.

  9. BIGSKY August 16, 2017 at 1:16 am

    All the money is being spent on the top for luxury vehicles,salaries and all else whilst the ordinary man on the road can’t get a siding board.


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