Kingston: A green city or a concrete jungle?

I had planned to share this Letter to the Editor myself, but fellow blogger Susan Goffe beat me to it. There is a creeping tide of concrete across the island nowadays, in the name of “development” and “progress.” Well, in my view both those lovely words should really be about improving our quality of life, but it seems our planners are only planning for machines, not humans – gas-guzzling, polluting machines at that. This is not only an issue in the beauty spot of Portland, now despoiled – and other rural areas. It is happening in the city I call home. As the author of this letter, Architect Ann Hodges points out “KINGSTON HAS A CHOICE BETWEEN BEING A GREEN CITY OR A CONCRETE JUNGLE.” Well, we are not leaning towards the green option, that’s for sure.

Our roads are designed for cars only, while parking lots proliferate… (My photo)

Right Steps & Poui Trees

Architect Ann Hodges has a letter in today’s Gleaner, a letter which focuses on the developments taking place on the street on which she lives – Lady Musgrave Road. In it, she expresses concerns that many people have, myself included, about the nature of some of the building that is taking place across the city. I have printed the letter in full below.

Letter of the Day – Highway or avenue?

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Why do we put so much money and effort into making roads better for cars and practically no money into making roads and sidewalks better for people?

It has become clear that we need a radically different approach to urban roads and transport. A transport system that relies on motor cars to move people through the city (good though it may be for revenue collection on import duty and fuel tax) is not sustainable.

The…

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6 thoughts on “Kingston: A green city or a concrete jungle?

  1. The war on the Environment is in its advance stages and people are too delusional to see what is happening. This is a Scorched earth concept of development and prosperity. Kingston and St. Andrew need environmental help because it is beginning to look like a congested concrete Jungle. It is unbreathable hot and smoggy at times because we have removed greenspaces and as a result, it floods easily when it rains.

    We might have saved Goat Island, but we have destroyed about 1000 Goat islands building these tacky over the top ugly concrete gated compounds. I had hoped the highways would have provided an alternative by spreading the development out into the rural areas, but it is doing the opposite. The problem is that we have a one-dimensional imported concept of development, this one size fits all and we are too blind to see it is doing more harm than good.

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    1. I agree with every word! It is so sad, and unnecessary. With a little care and thought we could “develop” urban areas while making them liveable, including green spaces. So many trees of any size have been cut down in our neighborhood (we have lived in the same house for over 30 years and it has changed beyond recognition). So far, the highways have had little impact apart from the environmental devastation they are bringing – in particular deforestation. They are mostly toll roads which many Jamaicans cannot afford, anyway. So I am not sure if the benefits are there in terms of productivity, economy etc. That “one size” certainly doesn’t fit Jamaica, that’s for sure!

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  2. Ann Marie Vaz has a daily “GM” on Twitter (good morning). As I looked at her tweet, I couldn’t help but wonder about the people in Portland who were never consulted on the highway construction, and who has lost out. I tweeted back to her that on reading what was happening in Portland, and clearly other parts of the Island, I couldn’t help being reminded in of that line in the song “Big Yellow Taxi”, by Joni Mitchell where she sings, or perhaps bemoans when she says “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot”.

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    1. Yes! I wrote an article some years ago about “paradise or parking lot”! That song is so appropriate now, although from a different time and place! I know, I do follow Ann-Marie. I don’t think she wants to respond to any comments about the road. It’s all deeply disappointing.

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      1. Well, she never responded to my Tweet, that I tagged you in. She know doubt knows who you are. Her and her husband are like tweedle dee and tweedle dumb. Their version of “progress” is seriously F’ed up. Neo-liberals at their best.

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