Old Buildings in the city

This letter is a reaction to a reported statement made by the Minister of Works, The Honourable Gregory Bowen concerning the existence of Old Buildings in St. George’s.

I write in my capacity as a member of The Council of The Grenada National Trust. However, the views expressed here, in no way represent the views or policies of the Grenada National Trust. Readers interested in the views and policies of The Trust are encouraged to visit its website at www.grenadanationaltrust.org.

The report claims that the Minister said that “there (are) too many old buildings in St. Georges” and wondered what could or might be done about the situation.

I agree with the Minister. There are indeed too many old dilapidated and dangerous buildings, not only in St. George’s but also throughout the State. Many of these buildings are not only dangerous, they are an eyesore, they are a breeding ground for vermin and they pose a serious threat to the Health and Safety of citizens and visitors alike.

However, to conflate the demolition of some of these with the destruction of our Heritage is muddle headed and wrong. Not every old building should be preserved nor should every old building be destroyed. What we urgently need is clearly defined and effectively enforced regulations concerning the status and management of these buildings. We also need much more than that.

In 1967, a group of concerned citizens were able to persuade the Government of the day to enact legislation for this very purpose. Ordnance No. 20 of 1967 established The Grenada National Trust with a mandate to Preserve and Protect Grenada’s Heritage. What we did not have at the time was the necessary and appropriate legislation to carry out its mandate effectively. As a consequence, the country has lost forever a large number of very important and irreplaceable Heritage assets.

A great number of the Great Plantation Houses have disappeared forever, while our neighbouring islands have not only preserved theirs, but today use them as major income bearing assets in the Tourism business.

Areas of our national Parks are constantly being vandalised with questionable and vulgar activities in the name of tourism with scant regard to the aesthetic impact on the local environment or existing legislation.

Irreplaceable artifacts from earlier periods of settlements of these islands have been openly plundered, often it is believed with the acquiescence of those charged with the responsibility of protecting them.

Protesting and having photographs taken of Old buildings, even writing letters to the news media is and could never be sufficient.

The Grenada National Trust has made, is making and will continue to make representation to The Government for the enactment of urgently needed and appropriate legislation to enable it and other heritage agencies to intervene to preserve and protect our valuable and rapidly disappearing Heritage for the benefit and education of our people and future generations.

Newton Alexander
St. Patrick’s

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