Vincentians should consider high rise housing – PM
Dr Ralph Gonsalves
July 18, 2023
Vincentians should consider high rise housing – PM

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has pointed to the need for residents of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to turn their sights to living in high rise housing as a result of inadequate land space for construction of individual homes.

He made the point in a recent interview with SEARCHLIGHT during which he pointed out that issues of inadequate land space are affecting not just SVG, but other OECS countries. There are about 20,000 acres of land available in SVG for use for social, agricultural, housing, and other programmes. As a result the Prime Minister said that consideration will have to be given for the construction of high rise apartment buildings to compensate for the lack of adequate land space.

“In our Caribbean there are people who say that you cannot get enough land to build houses, and there is in fact a shortage for housing construction. That is because, up to this present time, all of us want to have a separate plot of land on which we have our house with our own porch and with our own garden and space around us,” he noted.

“But there is a lot of space going up in the air, and therefore we have to begin going upwards and to have an organizational culture, and a habitational culture, which embraces this kind of life and living.”

The Prime Minister anticipates there will be some resistance to any move in this direction but he pointed out that “Our people go to the United States of America, to Britain, and live in these high rise buildings, but there are rules and regulations as to how you deal with things and how you manage the place, on issues touching on sanitation, public health, etc, etc, etc.”

Prime Minister Gonsalves pointed out that in the region the process began in Jamaica and in Trinidad with professionals and middle class people living in apartments, “and that is where the first push is going to come in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It has started, but is a trickle and not a flood, but it will become a flood.”

The Government is at present continuing with a project to provide individual houses in North Windward for residents who need to be relocated as a result of damage caused by the eruption of La Soufriere Volcano in 2021.

The first new community, comprising 27 houses at Orange Hill was established with the assistance of a Trinidad company, the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Foundation.

There was also construction of 20 houses at another location at Orange Hill from an injection of about EC$4 million from the Mustique Charitable Trust. And an additional 20 houses are also being constructed on lands at Sandy Bay, purchased from Parliamentary Representative for North Windward, Montgomery Daniel.

The Prime Minister has called for the establishment of a Community Housing Association to manage the housing projects in these communities.

“I want us to put together a Community Housing Association in which you would have the Mustique Charitable Trust, the Government, and representatives of the people who are the home owners to help with the management of the community, so to begin to develop the idea that communities- whether special or on the ground, or whether you are going up in the air, that it would be in the interest of all of us to keep the place clean, control certain forms of activities,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

“We are not reinventing the wheel here. It is … an application, a novel application of a concept which has existed at least in the context of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.

He cited as an example, the rules and regulations governing the affluent residents who live on the island of Mustique. The first group of residents who were relocated to Orange Hill went into their new homes for Christmas, 2022.