Editorial | Creatives to the rescue?
We believe Kingston’s Mayor Delroy Williams is sincere when he articulates his vision for transforming Kingston into a great place in which to live, work and spend leisure time. Indeed, business people and residents have been yearning for that kind of transformation for many years.
The mayor’s enthusiasm was on full display when he unveiled the colourful Temple Lane mural in downtown Kingston this week, where he spoke of Kingston’s increased earning potential with the opening up of Port Royal to cruise shipping.
The projection is for a tourism boost with more dollars flowing from cruise ship passengers, as well as stopover visitors expected to number about 10,000 this year.
The idea of private-public partnerships was also highlighted in this project which brought together the embassies of the United States and Mexico, the entertainment ministry, and Mexican and local artists.
Managing a city is a difficult task and in order to get it right, city administrators must identify and nurture the best opportunities for growth. By celebrating the first of many others to come, the potential of the creative and innovative industries is being highlighted and encouraged by the municipality.
Which brings us to the subject of community partnerships. Smart management of a municipality will seek out investment in infrastructure that will help to accelerate growth so that communities will not merely be on the periphery looking at development but will be able to participate in and benefit from these activities.
Here comes the crunch: sustainable growth cannot occur if we continue to ignore the fundamental problems of the inner city. For example, there has been no investment in housing stock in many of these blighted communities where once-elegant buildings are now teetering on the brink of collapse. Tenement yards with their outdated and sometimes makeshift electrical facilities are prone to fires. Meanwhile, sanitary amenities and waste-disposal management are often non-existent. There needs to be a bold and comprehensive plan for urban renewal. We have talked about it long enough, now it’s time to act.
Then there is the security factor. People who work and do business in the downtown business district generally fear for their safety. Police presence is never enough to ensure order and small incidents can escalate to life-threatening scenes in mere minutes.
Traffic control in downtown Kingston is woefully lacking. Traffic signals are generally ignored and as taxi drivers bulldoze their way through intersections, it often requires skilful manoeuvres from other motorists to avoid collisions.
Kingston is dirty with garbage strewn all over. One of the problems is that there are never enough garbage-disposal receptacles. And there are few prosecutions for littering.
So we have drawn a rough sketch, Mayor Williams, of a city in need of better nurturing and bold initiatives to cure some of its ills.
In his words, “…our major task for the city is to create a generation of people whose imaginative faculties are so developed that there would be no challenge, no problem for which they cannot find solutions.”
A mayor’s tenure is limited, so the vision has to be shared by the various partners. We urge Mayor Williams to reach within that pool of creatives and have them help to find solutions to some of these seemingly intractable problems with which the city, and indeed, the country, has been grappling over many years.