In a world characterised by constant change, only the extremely brave or foolhardy will venture to be emphatic about everything on which he or she has opportunity to pronounce.
And the change that has impacted so many lives since the start of the economic recession in the middle of the last decade makes it even more important that we be prudent with our judgements.
In the face of the above, however, we will be so bold as to discard our own advice and state emphatically that we are creating a hodgepodge of development along our West Coast — a situation that will lead to much regret when the economy eventually picks up. And we are certain that it will at some point in the future.
The truth is we are being critical with much reluctance, since the matter to which we seek to draw attention speaks to the Barbadian spirit of enterprise — that determination which states that no matter how tough things get we will not roll over and play dead; not without all the fight we can muster.
Take a look at the short stretch of road between Jordan’s Supermarket in Fitts Village and the entrance to the old Benskin’s Driving School in Prospect; or between the old Coach House and the Paynes Bay Methodist Church; or alternatively along the Porters/ Church Point/Holetown area farther north — but all along Highway 1 in St. James.
These areas are now home to dozens of small businesses of varying character and in many ways it appears that we are changing traditionally residential districts into commercial centres with no over-arching master plan. We are not suggesting that these things are taking place without approval from the Town and Country Planning Development Office, but that it appears to lack an overall development strategy.
We have an old village shop that is now a Chinese restaurant; a family home that is now the place for rotis; a variety of boutiques where people once lived; fine dining in the home of the late deputy principal of Coleridge and Parry School; a hardware store and auto parts dealership separated by a community church; and a not-so quiet restaurant and bar a stone’s throw from the historic St. James Parish Church. Add to that the doctor’s offices and real estate companies that want to be near the action.
Again we applaud those who took the leap and invested in these ventures; but can we imagine a resurgent economy with Bajans and visitors out in their numbers patronising these businesses. In every instance parking is limited to almost nonexistent, and prospective patrons seeking to turn across traffic can create major headaches.
The hodgepodge of signage is starting to look like chaos and too often the only major change to distinguish the former residences from their business reincarnations is the brightly coloured paint that now adorn them.
Our sense of enterprise may be soaring in these hard times, but our record for planning remains as dismal as it has ever been. Unfortunately, we don’t have the answer, and we would not suggest that these entrepreneurs be burdened with development regulations that would snuff out the light of enterprise before it is fully aglow. But it is clear that this development is coming at a major price — order.