No Plan, What’s New
June 4, 2008
Today’s article discussing the absence of a national transportation policy was good and informative news. While Jacqueline Douglas-Brown is reciting what every urban planning student could figure out just by driving around this country, she is saying it via a public medium, and demonstrates that she, unlike some of dem odders, has actually thought about the problem as well as some long and short term solutions.
For many readers, undoubtedly this is the first time they are hearing that planning does involve more than building a highway and a new road. It involves how the entire built environment – every building, every tree, every carpark, every drain – is conceived and how each part of that geographic space must be engineered to work together in a harmonious way. And yes, planning is not just for today, but for the future. We can predict how all kinds of traffic will flow, if we take the time to think about what are the priorities — places for people to walk, goods to move, green spaces etc. how and where new population centers will emerge. And yes, it takes some thinking, something our politicians and developers are not very good at, I’m afraid. All they could think about was how much money they could make by flooding our streets with big cars and building shoddy houses on questionable bits of land.
Sure, places like Montego Bay – it hurts me go to there these days, believe you me – demonstrate what kind of disaster emerges when a colonial seaport becomes a bustling city without any additional infrastructure since 1910. But you can’t blame “history” for the disaster that is Portmore. Nope. That whole disaster is pure sheggery and when I see what’s not happening with downtown Kingston, I want to cry. I will leave it at that.
I just heard about an urban planning project in Curitiba, a “mid-size” city in one of the southern states of Brazil where I visited many years ago. Somehow, I didn’t know that this existed when I visited then. Mind you, the population is probably bigger than all of Jamaica, but the thought that has gone into addressing and anticipating the needs of the population is just amazing. Can you imagine having a library in every neighborhood? its called a book bank, or something like that. I found a website that does a good treatment of the city’s development. Read, salivate, dream and write some letters to our MPs. Who knows? One day, our Jamaica could become a desirable place to live.