Town Council endorses ambitious Green Bartica Development Plan -business community optimistic about benefits
Georgetown, Guyana – (August 19, 2016) The Bartica Town Council, on Wednesday, unanimously endorsed the proposed Green Bartica Development Plan, which seeks to transform Bartica, Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region (Region Seven) into a model green town in keeping with President David Granger’s vision to drive Guyana’s development through sustainable initiatives. The Town Council adapted the plan at their statutory meeting, which was held in the boardroom of the Regional Democratic Council office.
The plan, which is an initiative of the Ministries of the Presidency and Communities, was prepared after consultation and feedback from stakeholders, including the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) and is a continuation of efforts to engage the town in helping to develop a comprehensive sustainable strategy.
In his address to the Town Council and later to representatives of the business community and private sector, Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Rear Admiral (ret’d) Gary Best said the objective of the exercise was to present “a consistent and integrated plan to generate policies that will lead to the sustainable development of the natural capital of Bartica in order to maximise revenue generation and [the] provision of services to residents”.
“In ‘greening’, what we expect the government will do is use both private and public investment to… drive green jobs and income growth which promotes clean energy and reduce carbon emissions and pollution to [prevent] the loss of biodiversity and eco-system services,” Advisor Best said. Government will also be keen to mainstream adaptation and mitigation into development; meet international standards and indicators, select and utilise alternative energy sources (solar, hydro-power and biomass) that are most economically feasible, managing and valuing natural capital and land use planning, among other actions.
Adapting to a green pathway also entails sustainable harvesting of natural capital, environmental security, economic prosperity and social cohesion and other measures. “Sustainable means that you harvest your natural capital so that generations in the future can benefit from the same natural capital,” Advisor Best said. He also noted several benefits, principally social, economic and environmental, that will accrue, all aimed at making Guyana an upper-middle income country by 2025.
Meanwhile, Agricultural Engineer, Mr. Charles Griffith, in his presentation on the industrialisation and modernisation of Bartica, said his group considers the proposed Land Use Plan to be one of the most important components of the overall Green Bartica plan. The group created an inventory of all the resources, analysed that data, then developed a strategy and a strategy proposal to provide an overall concept of the plan that covers Bartica’s extended demarcations which measures about 68 square miles, a figure that is subject to verification by the GLSC.
“You need to have a vision of what you want this place to look like, 20 years, 15 years, 5 years down the road… there are matrices that you can develop to assist you to put together a masterplan of where you want to go in terms of improving your standard of living, the municipality being able to sustain itself, … being able to take care of its debt, … being able to provide benefits for both industries and the people of Bartica, that is the overall objective; improved standard of living, but it must be sustained,” Mr. Griffith said.
The plan proposes to diversify the Bartica economy so that the main source of income won’t be primarily from the mining sector. “Bartica is very fortunate… it has water, it has forest products, it has minerals, it has quarrying and with the combination of productive land and water, there comes agricultural enterprises, in that context, those are the major resources,” he said.
With regard to the modernisation component, it proposes a restructuring of the drainage and sanitation system, development of recreation, tourist, light commercial, business and other areas, and expanding the transportation corridors with a view to facilitating trade and connectivity to other communities, including at Goshen to link Bartica to the Coast and to Linden, Upper Demerara – Upper Berbice. It also proposes alternative energy options and smart metering, the agricultural cultivation of about 10,000 acres of lands in the eastern section of the community, expanding and diversifying the quarrying sector in the mineral belt on the western side and the building of factories. The plan proposes several financing options such as Diaspora investment, public/private partnerships, seed capital, loans, equities and others.
The GLSC has already indicated an interest in starting to zone the industrial and new residential areas. According to the plan, zoning will be done on 70/30 agriculture to nature ratio and 50/50 development to nature ratio. Lands for pasturing have also been identified and a recommendation made for some State lands to be vested into the township to attract revenue.
‘Bartica is going places’
Bartica Mayor, Mr. Gifford Marshall is optimistic about the proposed plan, which he said “will bring major transformation to Bartica”.
“The plan … is timely. We know that it will give some amount of direction going forward. The business community too, it is very, very important that they be a part of what is happening…. they will definitely be a major stakeholder. This zoning and Land Use Plan will open up new lands and new opportunities for us and at the same time improve all the sectors so it will definitely boost us economically,” he said. The Mayor noted too that the Council has already started to host workshops in the commercial district aimed at ensuring that stakeholders are kept informed.
Businesswoman Ms. Elizabeth Moonsammy expressed similar sentiments. “I am very happy with the proposed land development plan … some of what you have presented here reflects some of the vision our foreparents had for Bartica many, many years ago… This … gives businesses here something to really think outside the … box. This now allows us to … expand and dream big,” she said. Mr. Devon Schroeder, of Dino Investments, was also enthusiastic about the plan. “Bartica is going places,” he said.