A meeting at Winnifred’s Beach to talk about the right kind of development

“Sustainable development” is an expression that has virtually no meaning any more; it is so hackneyed and over-used…and misused. But “development” does not have to mean capitalism, consumerism, and environmental degradation and destruction. Development should be for the benefit of the people, and it should be about partnerships.

One such partnership is the support now offered to the Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), a government agency.

On Sunday, March 20 – 2 PM, in front of Cynthia’s Restaurant at the beach, there will be an important Town Hall Meeting with the topic of discussion being “Winnifred Beach Development”.

All community members and friends of Winnifred are invited to attend the meeting and the discussion that will follow.

The Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society (FWBBS), which has independently managed the beach for over 10 years, is pleased that TEF is willing to devote some of its public resources to the development of the tourist areas and the communities that host them. It is hoped that this will be a collaborative project that takes into account the complexity of the beach and its impact on the community and the vendors who have lived there for over twenty years.

Come and suggest what kind of development you would like for Winnifred Beach.

The FWBBS has also already submitted a sustainable development plan to TEF that can be partially achieved with minimal investment from private donations.

If you cannot attend the meeting, please send your suggestions and considerations to:
Mr Johan Rampair (TEF) johan.rampair@tef.gov.jm and in copy to info@free-winnifred.com

The clear waters of Winnifred’s Beach in Portland. (My photo)

Please see the Winnifred Beach Development Proposal from Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society below:

January 25, 2022

This proposal is to keep Winnifred Beach accessible without restrictions to the general public and to build a successful cooperation model between the Government, the Private Sector, and the Winnifred Beach Community.

In view of future plans to develop Winnifred Beach, the Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society, whose members have been the ones taking care of the beach for over two decades, stands ready to undertake officially the management of the beach in this new phase.

We aim to offer a higher standard of service to support new tourism development in this area, and to make Winnifred Beach the flagship for international tourists seeking an authentic experience in Jamaica.

Winnifred Beach is a rare combination of authenticity and beauty, the secret dream of many “First World” travelers. The Beach is also an historical community for Portlanders where they traditionally go to celebrate events,, improve health, relax and unwind. All these benefits point to the need for Winnifred to be considered as a community centre beach.

Our plans would be to include social activities on the beach such as:

Schools’ involvement in keeping the beach clean and at the same time, learning about the environment, the reef, fauna and flora protection;

Training for beach personnel to become environmental wardens;

Swimming classes for persons from the community – which have already started;

Setting up a craft centre from among the beach vendors and hosting small craft exhibitions at the beach.

The Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society is already in the process of creating an organizational structure capable of managing activities on the beach. We will also seek professional advice and financial aid from private foundations and international donors that are ready to support our project.

We propose that the Tourism Enhancement Fund’s financial assistance be utilized to develop the necessary infrastructure for sustainable development of the beach. This will create the conditions to enhance local human resource and entrepreneurship.

We recomment that funds earmarked for beach improvements be spent primarily on infrastructure work, such as a new parking area above the beach; solar energy and rainwater harvesting systems to serve the activities on the beach; eco-bathrooms; natural trails along the various facilities and shops. We have already done feasibility studies on these matters and are ready to bring our proposals to the table at our next meeting with the Urban Development Corporation and the Tourism Enhancement Fund.

Preserving the same “casual tropical style” of Winnifred Beach is a key component to the success of this project. For the construction of the commercial spaces, we envision a close collaboration with the various operators of the beach.

Bamboo and wood are the main construction materials of the current structures on the beach. A private foundation is willing to donate to us specialized technical support for the on-site processing of bamboo.

At the last Town Meeting the creation of a “unique feature” that could represent the beach was discussed. We propose that the unique feature should be Beach Art Installations, inspired by Nature and realized by local and international artists. This model has been developed with great success in many parts of the world.

In all, our proposal combines the upliftment of the beach in a sustainable way, the active involvement of the community, respect and protection of the environment, and the possibility for visitors to enjoy a true Jamaican experience at Winnifred Beach.

Thank you for your consideration.

A lovely map of Winnifred’s. The fresh water pool is more than fresh water – it is spring water with a strong sulphur smell.

5 thoughts on “A meeting at Winnifred’s Beach to talk about the right kind of development

  1. Maybe it was the reality of seeing too much corruption such as the taking of Winnifred;s Beach that finally caused Anthony Bourdain to end his life. Winnifred;s first needs to be protected. Then it can be enhanced for use by locals and visitors alike without discrimination. Yes. Save Winifred;s.

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    1. Say what? Anthony Bourdain took his own life because of something to do with the beach? Would you listen to yourself? My word. What a totally bizarre thing to suggest.

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  2. This is certainly welcome news, and I’m sure the locals, not least of which include Cynthia, are breathing a sigh of relief. Maybe this will halt the illegal excavation of sand from the beach, and the nearly unrelenting threat of the appropriation of the area and development into another god awful all-inclusive resort.

    Still, any development there needs to be tempered with what the area can withstand (it’s not that big). “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” comes to mind. Sustainability needs to be more than just a catchy idea.

    My wife and I discovered that beach after watching the Anythony Bourdain episode from Part’s Unknown where he travelled there – twice – during the filming of the episode. We now make a point of going there every time we visit the island. In fact, that beach and it’s little community is so incredible as to warrant booking a few nights ay any one of the nearby hotels just so as to be able to hang out there.

    At one time, Hellshire was our favourite spot (It’s also a lot closer to our family in Green Acres) but it has regretfully fallen victim to environmental degradation, the likes of which may not be repairable. Hope remains that one day it will return to it’s glory. In terms of stewardship, the locals at Hellshire could take a few tips from the locals at Winnifred with respect to basic beach maintenance.

    Jamaica has few really beautiful public access beaches where the local vibe rings loud and clear, where the food is fabulous, and you can frolic without being inundated with the stench of commercialism and foreign ownership. Long live Winnifred’s Beach!!!

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