Our Readers' Opinions
November 13, 2015
What are they going to do for Calliaqua?

by Vaughan Toney

With the election now called for December 9 and the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) favoured by many to win a fourth term in office, the question I hear most often these days from our fellow citizens of Calliaqua is? “What are they going to do for Calliaqua?” If all politics is indeed local, what commitments are our political candidates prepared to make to the people of Calliaqua in return for our support at the upcoming polls?{{more}} It seems to me that anyone wishing to represent this battleground constituency must be willing to articulate a clear vision for development in this town over the next five years. So, as a public service amid this political season, I would like to propose my personal four-point empowerment plan for Calliaqua township in the critical areas of housing, education,economic revitalization and flood prevention.


The quality of housing in much of Calliaqua is in need of improvement, to say the least. The reason, as we all know, is that so many of our people are living on rented land, which severely limits their options for development. Moreover, with so many of our residents struggling to make ends meet, they do not have the resources to purchase the land on which they live. Consequently, the quality of housing has stagnated for decades.

I propose that the next government use the power of our national treasury to purchase these privately held lands, demolish the existing structures and invest in a capital plan to construct a series of modern, affordable housing developments for Calliaqua residents. Under my plan, current residents will have the first option to qualify for long-term, low-interest mortgages, thereby enabling them to purchase their own homes in the town where many of these families have lived for generations. In my conversation with one of the major landowners, he is receptive to the idea of turning over his properties. In the unlikely event that some private landowners are reluctant to sell, I am confident that with the right leadership they can be persuaded to do so for the public good.

In addition to revitalizing the entire town of Calliaqua and raising the overall quality of life for many of our working poor, this plan will also empower many of our families for the first time with the opportunity to build equity in an asset they own, and cultivate an economic stake in the community where they live. In so doing, we would also have created for the first time an economic ladder to the middle class for many of our fellow Vincentians who for too long have struggled at the margins of society.


To its credit, the ULP government has prioritized the importance of early childhood education in the past one-and-a-half decades since taking office. Wherever a new public elementary school has been built during its tenure, the Government has also constructed a nearby pre-school to give our youngest children the head start they need to succeed academically and to successfully compete in later life. The research is clear: by front-loading our investment in early education for children during the ages two to four, when their brains develop at an extremely fast pace, and while they’re learning social, motivational, cognitive and analytical skills, we empower our children with critical capabilities that will serve them a lifetime. Pre-school is when kids first learn to work together in teams, to resolve problems, to listen and cooperate – all skills that directly come into play in the workforce. And the earlier society invests in children, the greater the return we get.

Unfortunately, our children in Calliaqua are yet to harvest the full fruits of this national investment in early education. The property adjacent to our local public school is privately owned and thought until now to be unavailable for construction of an adjoining pre-school. But my own investigation suggests that this may no longer be the case. I propose that immediately upon taking office, the Government should open negotiations with a view to acquiring this property for construction of a public preschool that is free to all families. The children and families of this town deserve nothing less.

Economic Revitalization

The third pillar of my four-point empowerment plan will require a comprehensive re-imagination of our main thoroughfare in Calliaqua – for example the mostly galvanized PH Veira building. Long-time residents will recall that this building once housed a plastics factory that eventually closed its doors once it became no longer viable. Since then, it has served as temporary home to a succession of transient and struggling businesses. As a result, the building remains an eyesore and a public embarrassment to the people of Calliaqua. This galvanize facade is like a scar on the nose and can no longer be allowed to stand as the public face of this historic town.

I propose that the next representative should open talks immediately with the Veira family to encourage or persuade them to demolish that structure and replace it with a modern building befitting our stature as a major town. A modern building would be especially attractive to clients such as medical and legal offices, barber shops, beauty parlours, and other small stores. I can envisage a hardware outlet, along the likes of an ACE Hardware, serving as an anchor store. These businesses will help stimulate commercial activity in the surrounding areas and energize the economic potential of Calliaqua.

Flood Prevention

Businesses will be reluctant to invest in a town prone to floods and residents will continue to suffer major losses on a regular basis because when it floods most of Calliaqua is under two feet of water. Geographically, Calliaqua is at the mercy of the two rivers that border it and the problem is one of inadequate infrastructure. Both bridges that span the two rivers have two culverts each, but the culverts are too small and are easily blocked with debris, which results in the rivers backing up and emptying their waters into the town. These should be replaced with a single, larger culvert under each bridge. The new government must make this infrastructure improvement a priority.

With the upcoming election I can think of no better time than now to put these ideas out into the public sphere for discussion, and to the candidates for their consideration. And since it is already well known that I am an avowed supporter of Camillo and the ULP, I would encourage him to add these planks to the party’s platform.