EVOLVING THE EAST PORT-OF-SPAIN GROWTH POLE & HERITAGE SITE PLAN
BACKGROUND The East Port-of-Spain Council of Community Organisations (EPCCO) is an umbrella organisation on which are represented most of the functioning community organisations in East Port-of-Spain, Laventille and Morvant. It provides the base for consultation, dialogue and inclusion of all stakeholders and residents in matters of concern to the community. The entire area has long been affected by problems associated with a marginalised inner city. The early history of the establishment of Laventille, following Emancipation when the ex-slaves fled the plantation, explains in part, the relatively haphazard physical formation. The Colonial Authorities were not interested in planning communities for recently emancipated slaves, since their concern was to retain a labour force on tap for the plantation. Laventille was subject to increasing densification, and was the magnet for settlement by those seeking residence close to the city, including those entering the country in the earliest waves of immigration from neighbouring islands as far back as the latter half of the 19 th century. The pattern of internal migration and of an influx of migrants continued over the course of the 20 th century. The population has come to be seen as essentially ethnically of African descent in the sociological landscape of Trinidad. The community has produced some of the most outstanding talent in the country over the years and given birth to the steelband. The calypso art form and its derivatives also have flourished in this community, which has come to be seen as the Mecca for cultural outpouring. Its citizens have contributed to the development of the arts and culture of the country in myriad ways and it has been the source for talent in sports in various disciplines. The talent of its people is not limited to the arts and culture, however. It has also been the birthplace of scholars and outstanding professionals in the course of the 20th century. In effect, then, what is now seen as one of the poorer and most depressed of communities has harboured some of the most inventive and creative people of the country, who have the added advantage beyond basic human talent of a sensitivity to the arts. However, many of those who have achieved economic and social mobility by their talent have moved out of the community. The area has remained one of the most marginalised communities in the country and its residents have come to be stigmatised. The social implication especially for youth is that early in oneâ€™s life, there is a sense of discrimination. In the 1950s and 1960s, violent gangs formed, in part around the steelbands of the area, and among the youth, who were unemployed at the time. Initiatives in those early years to stem gang violence involved the creation of programmes like the Depressed Areas Project which over the years, were renamed the Special Works Programme and is today the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP).
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Given the high levels of unemployment that afflicts the area and some parts of Trinidad and Tobago, where populations have similar characteristics – poor education, lack of skills, limited employability and marketable skills – all Government administrations of Trinidad and Tobago have found it necessary to rely, and retain Special Employment Programmes (SEPs) as they are known internationally. As these programmes have become institutionalised over the years, they have become the target for resource capture by groups seeking to corrupt the process. Data from the Census of 2000 show that the majority of the adult population had lower levels of education than the national average and therefore, were limited to the lower echelons of the labour force, in elementary and non-descript occupations and thus to the lower levels of income generation. This has impact in respect of incomes going into households, thus consigning many children and youth to relative poverty and difficult circumstances in their early lives and formative years. In such circumstances that are highly conducive to social anomie, the incorporation of Trinidad and Tobago in the international narco-trafficking trade that links South America with the North Atlantic has brought the lure of high rewards to many of the youth in this area, as small-time distributors of cocaine and to a lesser extent, marijuana. Trinidad and Tobago with its higher per capita income in the Caribbean is thus, not only a transshipment point but also a market for the distribution of drugs. Market competition is partly responsible for the emergence of gangs that have to protect the trade. There is also the allure to young people of the models purveyed in the electronic media and in music of the North American ghetto-life that seem to demonstrate much in common with locations like Laventille. The romantisisation of trying to ‘get rich quick or to die trying’ impacts on large numbers who have no expectation of a long life and are prepared to go out in glory, having had a short life of fast cars, plenty of cash and a bevy of girl-friends. They become ready foot-soldiers for gang leaders who in turn are managed by forces well beyond the confines of Laventille and such communities, and who are clearly able to manage the entry and distribution of large shipments of drugs and weapons that are a complementary product in the drug trade. Documentation and analysis of the uniqueness of this community have not been produced in quantity and quality, or utilised for policy formulation and programming to date. Anecdotal reports are largely the basis for analysis and planning, consequently a research agenda is required to inform the long term initiatives for community transformation. This agenda should be influenced by the human rights framework, including principles of gender equity and equality in order to adequately represent the lived reality of men and women, boys and girls in this community.
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PLANNING EPCCO has sought to ensure a wide consultation in the context of the announced initiative of the Government to promote East Port-of-Spain as a node of development, given its demonstrated potential over the years with its cultural and artistic perquisites. The Government has invited the participation of distinguished persons in the arts to examine ways in which the full potential of its artistic mainsprings can be harnessed for social and economic development. With the cooperation of the Heritage City Initiative Committee and the Caribbean Network for Urban and Land Management (CNULM), the East Port-of-Spain Development Company Ltd, the Artists Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago, the Inter-Agency Task Force, along with other stakeholders, EPCCO has produced the present report. EPCCO has come to the realisation that the transformation of the area has to be seen in longer terms than any of the plans that have been written in recent years. Indeed, a thirty year horizon has been mooted among members of the Council. In other words, any existing plan has to be the first stage of an overall perspective plan for the area. Moreover, EPCCO will work with the Central Government to ensure that its objectives for the area and the overall development policy of the Government are mutually reinforcing of each other. The East Port-of-Spain Development Company was established in the latter part of the last decade with the announced objective of the then Government of undertaking the level of investment to bring about the transformation of this community in the throes of urban blight. Out of a highly participatory process, there developed a well elaborated plan which has had the endorsement of EPCCO. Having revisited this plan and its many projects and programmes, of the East Port-of-Spain Development Company which are the most elaborate to date, and given the stated policy of the Government as expressed in the last Budget and in other official statements and actions, EPCCO has decided on a number of projects as the most critical areas of intervention in terms of its current and immediate needs. Implementation must be initiated even while EPCCO develops and articulates approaches for its long term development, ie over the next two to three decades, in a continuing participatory process among its constituents. EPCCOâ€™s design for the short to medium term can be reduced to seven areas of focus, namely: Heritage and artistic development Community development Human resource development
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Development of Physical Infrastructure Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Development Collective governance Personal and community security Certain core principles need to be observed in the implementation of projects and programmes, namely: 1. All projects in the community must involve community participation and the utilisation of community capacity as much as is possible. 2. National inclusion - EPOS is one of the most important communities in T&T- whatever happens inside of it affects the entire nation - for good or for ill. This is not only because of the communityâ€™s proximity to the city centre but also because of the cultural power of the community. 3. Correction for community marginalisation requires long term commitment and action designed to raise the plateau for the present generation. 4. The community is just like any other community in terms of its needs to survive and succeed: investment in its artistic capacity is not an excuse for under-investment in the other areas of endeavour of its residents. 5. The solution to social breakdown is the planning of communities so that no resident is outside of the â€˜zone of influenceâ€™ of basic civic amenities- cultural, educational, economic, healthcare wise etc. 6. Mapping of the community must identify the gaps in services, industry, education and culture. Physical and social planning must address the need for equitable geographic and socio-economic development. 7. New initiatives should be informed by relevant experiences in other parts of the world, in which marginalised communities have been transformed affording residents the opportunity to lead fruitful and rewarding lives. There are ongoing projects and programmes, albeit of limited reach, lacking in coordination and seldom geared to create genuine transformation for the people in their space. Moreover, many of the initiatives of the Government show lack of coordination and poor planning. The projects and interventions are to be seen in the context of a coordinated approach in which EPCCO and a Laventille based agency of the Government will act in concert and would be focal point for coordination. The projects are as follows:
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1. HERITAGE Heritage Sites are important to the community as sites of Memory and as points of initiation of younger generations into their Legacy. They also are entrepreneurial sites, some of which may be worth millions of dollars to businesses annually. There are a number of potential Heritage sites all over the community given that the community has a built ex-slave/free-landed artisan household stock, some of which dates from the mid 1800s. Apart from this the area has many natural, cultural, and historical figure sites as well. YEAR 1 PROJECT: East Port of Spain Heritage Committee Create an East Port of Spain Heritage Committee headed by a curator, with research assistants, etc. This committee can rationalize the priorities for the deployment of EPOS’s Heritage spending. This committee’s task in the first year will be to: a. Create a comprehensive Heritage Inventory of the entire East Port of Spain region b. Collect and curate the various heritage collections for the projects identified by the community. It will do this by acquiring artifacts, and conducting research, etc c. Consult with the community in the creation of the conceptual, architectural and programming briefs for the following sites: The EPOS Museum and Heritage Park; the Fort Picton business amenities site; Fort Chacon; the House of Music; and the host of larger Heritage projects identified by the community d. Build the brief for such suggested interventions like: (S)Heroes signage; Street naming; the community’s Halls/Walks of Fame; suggested Visitor information centres; and the Laventille Heritage City brochures
2. COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT There is need for a coordinated thrust in community development with the presence of an Office for Community and Social Development in the area, which will house Community and Social Development Specialists assigned to EPOS, and likewise Education Officers, Youth Officers, Culture Officers and Sports Officers. The location of an office here as a focal point for all services administered by the Government will represent a real devolvement and establish that there is national recognition of the uniqueness of the community. The office will also ensure that there is coordination among the various services available to EPOS. Youth Officers, Education Officers and Community Development Officers assigned to the area will work in their communities to encourage positive development among youth atrisk in particular. Sports Officers in the community will ensure that the potential among youth can be realised in the various sporting disciplines and sport management positions, and as well enlist the participation of the community at large in healthy recreation within the community itself.
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There is need for other critical services for the community, which can be better services through the Community Development Office: these include YTEP, OJT, and Adult Education, signifying the presence of certain Ministries in the area, with officers concerned to ensure that the entire community has a sense of access to important services provided by the Government. In the context of community development, there is a range of facilities that will be upgraded, redesigned and retrofitted, including: Community Centres - completely redesigned with a minimum set of specifications Panyards - using the Lloyd Best Schools-in-Pan model with an architectural reoutfitting and a sensitization programme for adult pannists to prepare for the integration of children within the pan yard environment Heritage Sites - the Memory Sites of the community that connect it to its best Self Sports Grounds - must be interspersed across the communities offering all kinds of possibilities including small goal pitches Schools - must be completely upgraded and retrofitted to offer a modern curriculum Churches/Shrines of different types - have their place in the provision of spiritual and social guidance for congregations. Their willingness to partner with the State must be anticipated in the arrangements put in place within communities. Community Centres need to be redesigned to be at the Centre of their community. They must become centres for self-actualisation of people in their communities and the focal point for civic, social and cultural activities in the community. They can also be locations for rehabilitative and other programmes for the community, like meeting places for clubs and community groups. The presence of Community Development Specialists in the community will allow for the identification of community perception and the determination of location for community centres where gaps exist. YEAR 1 PROJECT: Community and Social Development Office for EPOS An Office for Community, Youth and Social Development for EPOS will be built in EPOS and will act as the focal point for the delivery of a range of services to be devolved to the community, including Sports, OJT, YTEP, Social Welfare, Adult Education, Art and Craft, Mediation and Counselling Services. There will also be the upgrade and redesign, and administrative reprogramming of all Community Centres in the area to international best-practice models. Facilities such as the the Spree Simon Centre, Desperadoes and other panyards should be upgraded to serve as major community rehabilitative and progressive institutions, allowing them to achieve their full potential, for example, as schools in pan a la Lloyd Best. The redesign of the Desperadoes Centre might accommodate fitting recognition to Rudolph Charles and Pat Bishop in their contributions to music in the country and to the arts in Laventille. The following shows possible placement of facilities.
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Legend Existing Community Centres 1-Belmont Community Centre 2-St. Barbs/Belmont Community Centre 3-South East Port of Spain Multipurpose Facility/Soup Kitchen 4-St. Paul’s St Multipurpose Facility 5-Sea Lots Community Centre (basketball court) 6-Straker Village-Non-functional centre due to broader issues 7-East Port of Spain Regional Complex 8-St. Barbs Laventille-Needs to be rebuilt 9-Morris Marshall (football/basketball/playground) 10-Pelican Extension (Under Construction, football field) 11-Chinapoo (small and needs upgrading) 12-Romain Lands (St. Francis Valley Rd.) functional but needs upgrade 13-Mon Repos (damaged by fire) 14-Never Dirty-Multipurpose facility recently refurbished 15-Coconut Drive – New early childhood education centre 16-Upper Caledonia (not in use) 17-St. Joseph/Success Village/Marcellus St Community Centre (playground/recently refurbished) 18-Beetham Gardens-under construction 19-Angostura/Laventille Community Complex-playing field 20-Gonzales Community Centre-Community centre rebuilt, retaining wall in progress, Robert Greenidge playing field upgraded
Proposed Community Centres 1-Point Pleasant Park-cricket field 2-Sogren Trace-football/basketball courts 3-Trou Macaque- football/basketball courts/community centres/cricket field 4-Behind Success School/Eastern Quarry 5-Old Nestle Site 6-Next to Russell Latapy High School, opposite Morvant Savannahchildren’s recreation park/squatting problems 7-Upper Belmont/ St. Francis Valley Rd.-site identified 8-Marie Road 9-Stephansville-area identified 10-Paradise Heights-only a basketball court 11-Bastien Street Community Centre with adjacent school
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3. HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT Having regard to the gross educational and skills deficiencies among the population of the area, as evidenced in the larger percentage of the population with incomplete secondary education, and lower skill levels as evinced in a larger percentage than the national average being relegated to lower level occupations, there is need to provide a major thrust in educational and skills development of the adult population on the one hand, and to correct for structural and other problems that result in children and the youth suffering retardation in their educational career. Thus, access has to be addressed from early childhood education to preparation for entry to tertiary and post-secondary education: the underlying premise is that this population which is otherwise so absolutely creative, has at least equal ability, capability and potential in every area of educational endeavour as the rest of the population. Support for creative talent and culture must not be an excuse for underinvestment in the education and training needed for participation in the knowledge economy of the 21st century. YEAR 1 PROJECT: Upgrade of centres In Year One, there will be the upgrade and equipping of a number of centres as well as the establishment of a number of others where there is lack of access. In all cases, there will be need for suitably qualified and trained personnel. These will be in such areas as: Day-care centres Early childhood centres Home-work centres/Afterschool centres Music rooms in addition to panyards, facilities for choirs, and dance groups Libraries/Information centres with broad-band internet access Museums and repositories of artefacts of the locality Rehabilitation or drug abuse and treatment centre Counselling centres Children and youth play centres Craft centres for tutoring, production and commerce Rationalisation of access can be achieved on the basis of a grid, and centres should be organised as far as possible in multi-purpose community centres or facilities. All primary and secondary schools in the area shall be upgraded to the required level in terms of facilities and equipment fashioned on international best practices. The Belmont Orphan Home has to be upgraded, along with the music facility that it houses. It is recognised also that not all students are inclined to pursue a strict academic programme. On the other hand, there are many who may pursue other routes before embarking on traditional forms, including entry to the academy. The experience elsewhere has demonstrated that open systems allowing people to advance along routes in which they feel most comfortable
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tend to be most successful in realising full potential among the citizenry. We must therefore create or enhance the avenues whereby the artisans in our population will be able to develop their skills for positive contributions to the society, earn a sustainable livelihood and the respect of the population. We will therefore work with the National Training Agency and Ministry of Science Technology and Tertiary Education to develop the relevant structures and programmes which will facilitate this at the shortest possible time. We also require the Ministry of Science Technology and Tertiary Education to establish by March 2012, a working committee, to develop and recommend procedures, processes and standards to widen the gate to include technical vocational disciplines, in the fields where many of our people/ citizens find their competencies and to prepare participants for qualifying for the Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQ). In the final analysis, we have to arrive at the average level of education of the nation, even as this is raised. This means not only the children of EPOS in the school system catching up, but the out-of-school population (including mature workers) engaged in continuing education, training and upgrading, through programmes designed to provide second chance and pathways to the highest levels that citizens of EPOS seek to achieve.
4. DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE The infrastructure needs of the area are vast. The initiatives in the areas discussed above will require physical infrastructure investment. There are other areas of the more traditional type to be addressed, including roads, drains, waste and sewage disposal, street lighting, provision of security lighting and cameras, in thorough-fares. There is the matter of housing and squatter regularisation and the host of legal issues to be settled in dealing with land settlement issues in the area and investment in the physical infrastructure that will complement the process of dedensification of some areas of the community and densification of others in an organised approach.
5. ENTERPRISE AND ENTREPRENEURIAL DEVELOPMENT With appropriate upgrading of the population, the community will arrive at the capacity of any of the more dynamic islands in the Eastern Caribbean: its population is larger than the nation states of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis. There is a market internal to EPOS to be catered to and the rest of Trinidad and Tobago and the international economy in which its citizens can engage, from the location itself. Moreover, its special capabilities in the arts and culture can be the source for enterprise that people of the area can realise for themselves. Proposals from the community include:
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a. Micro credit Funds b. A Green Technology Centre- the re-design of E POS should be based on Green Principles and this would be the centre that programmes the interventions c. The Reclamation of Carnival Industries- Music Trucks, Sound Systems, Stages, Lights, Caterers, Drinks- East Port of Spain will be situating itself at the centre of the global Carnival Industry d. Mas- A Mas Assembly Factory must be situated in E POS. e. Pan- A pan manufacturing and chroming facility must be situated in E POS f.
Talapiya- Low-impact high yield farming like Talapiya farming should be introduced in E POS
g. Food- Food processing on a cottage and macro level can also be introduced h. Community skills bank i.
Markets, Night markets
k. Business incubators l.
Self reliance â€“food, plumbing
m. Recycling businesses n. Employment agency o. An EPOS shopping mall p. NEDCO q. Employment monitoring r. Cottage and craft industry s. A Fair-share bill t.
Guild of master craftsmen and artisans with a School of construction
YEAR ONE The seeding of entrepreneurship through a range of programmes organised to help large numbers to establish and run their businesses and to understand the demands of commerce will be the focus during the first year. Such agencies as NEDCO and other agencies of the state, like the Ministry of Labour with its focus on SMEs will need to offer a suite of programmes in the area, all geared to promoting entrepreneurship within the community and helping budding enterprise to overcome the major hurdles that lie in the way.
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6. COLLECTIVE GOVERNANCE There are eighteen or more community organisation operating in EPOS which are part of EPCCO. The need for a common platform that cuts across other bases of affiliation has come from the realisation that the entire area has been left behind in the development of Trinidad and Tobago. Politics and religion can be divisive forces among an umbrella organisation like EPCCO. The task of reorienting the community to achieve its highest potential is likely to take more than a decade. There is need for EPCCO to be geared for the long haul and to be equipped to operate almost in perpetual plenary as it revisits its plans and programmes and seeks to tweak them while engaging the Central Government to mutual advantage of both, irrespective of the party in power. YEAR ONE In Year One, EPCCO will seek to secure resources to allow the staging of a workshop designed to establish the modus operandi such that EPCCO can achieve sustainability required to manage its role as a change agent in the special community that EPOS is and in the face of the challenges that it faces and or shall face in the many years ahead. The Community Development Fund may be a possible source for support for this effort. The CDF should also be required to fund team building and leadership development workshops following on the planning workshop. 7. PERSONAL AND COMMUNITY SECURITY Trinidad and Tobago has experienced a decline in personal and community security over the years. Experts in criminology have advanced a host of reasons for this. What is also well established is that the people of Laventille have been heavily represented among the victims and perpetrators of violent crime and with the incidence being so prominent among the residents in the area, stigmitisation has created a cycle that is self-fulfilling, with the Security Services themselves coming to accept residence in Laventille as indicative of possible association with criminal activity and therefore almost immediate grounds for detention and arrest. While there is need to improve policing in Laventille through the establishment of a more visible police presence in terms of police posts and regular patrols, it is even more critical to promote community policing. There is need to correct the historical adversarial relationship between the police service and the residents.
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A collaborative approach between the police, and other agencies of the State, and the community in analysing the core issues related to crime and security in the area would be the recommended approach to determining the strategies for crime prevention and reduction. International best practices suggest that a combination of law enforcement and social programming facilitate short term relief and long term transformation. The Making Life Important initiative is an important contributor in this process. The MLI requires adequate resources; political will and community mobilisation to effect fundamental change. The issue of personal and community security presents the most urgent need for a research agenda for this area. This challenge presents opportunities for interrogating several social and political realities related to gender; class; ethnicity; age; justice and economics. YEAR 1 PROJECT: Community Policing It is absolutely necessary to create to develop close working relationship between the Police and the community. While there is need for greater visibility of the Police in terms of Police Posts, community leaders and the Police have to work together to encourage commitment to obedience of the law especially among the youth. The institution of the Police Youth Club, the involvement of the Police as supporter of Youth Sports in the area can be promoted as a way of gaining the trust of the residents in general and of the youth in particular. On the other hand, the Police have to be seen as even handed and capable of reaching all those involved in serious crime and not only the still small minority, some resident in EPOS who have committed heinous crime or are engaged in the marketing of drugs. That is critical to their bona fides as fair and thus worthy of being partners in community policing and community development. YEAR 1 PROJECT: Human Rights and Citizen Participation EPCCO has the opportunity to develop its policies and programming by utilising the tenets of the human rights framework. In this regard, its research agenda can be structured on these principles with the added dimension of gender analysis since there is a clear distinction between the realities of men and women in this area with respect to access and success in their educational and professional development. Residents have historically complained about discrimination and generally respond through aggression or impotence. Transformation, in such an environment, will require a structured approach to teaching, training and facilitating knowledge and skills building for individual and collective enabling to reduce human rights abuses perpetrated by the State on the community or among residents on each other. It is imperative that children know their rights as children and citizens and this is best done in a structured environment.
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