Friday, August 19, 2011

Urban Renewal Facts

Stating the ‘facts’ on urban renewal

Dear Editor,

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development, which has responsibility for the urban renewal program, has taken note of the references to the urban renewal program in a press release by the Progressive Liberal Party issued on August 17, 2011 under the caption, "FNM not in control of crime, failed to fund urban renewal," and in the stories in the print and electronic media, and it issues the following statement in response.

Firstly, the ministry wishes to inform the public that in New Providence, eight urban renewal centers were operational under the former government in the following communities: Fox Hill, Kemp Road, Nassau Village, Englerston, St. Cecilia, Farm Road, Bain and Grants Town and Fort Charlotte.  None of these centers were closed by the government and six, including the Nassau Village center, continue to operate from the same location as they did under the former government.  A ninth center was opened in Pinewood Gardens in 2008.

In Grand Bahama, six centers were operational under the former government, all of which are still open and four continue to operate from the same location as they did under the former government.  A seventh center was opened in Seahorse Village in 2008.

Secondly, there has never been any failure by the government to fund urban renewal.  Funds for the program have been allocated on a annual basis since 2007 as follows:

• 2006/2007 - $2,450,000

• 2007/2008 - $2,500,000

• 2008/2009 - $3,000,000

• 2009/2010 - $2,800,000

• 2010/2011 & 2011/2012 - $2,301,822.

The current allocation was based on the pattern of expenditure over the previous years.

The urban renewal program continues to operate a number of community based programs.

As has been the case for the past three years, all of the centers in New Providence held a summer program for children in July 2011 at a public school in the community where the center is located.   Almost two full pages of photographs of some of the activities of the camps were recently featured in the print media.  In Grand Bahama, the camps were held for two weeks during the month of July 2011.

All centers in New Providence and Grand Bahama continue to operate afterschool programs during the school year, and since May 2011 a number of teachers have been engaged as tutors in an effort to enhance the quality of instruction.

Similarly, a number of qualified musicians have been engaged as band instructors for New Providence and Grand Bahama to enhance the competence of band members.  In Grand Bahama, the Royal Bahamas Police Force still provides assistance with the bands.

In Grand Bahama, as an extension of the urban renewal sewing program, a school uniform sewing workshop was introduced in August 2010 to provide instruction to persons in the making of school uniforms under the direction of a trained seamstress.

The workshop was a tremendous success and the 2011 workshop is currently in progress.  In Grand Bahama, an employability skills program is also offered, which provides instruction for unemployed persons in a number of areas, including office procedures and computer applications.

The urban renewal program continues to partner with other government agencies, including the Department of Social Services, the Department of Environmental Health Services and the Royal Bahamas Police Force for the delivery of services and the operation of programs.  Joint activities include, community walkabouts to identify problems and the means by which they can be addressed.

The program also continues to partner with community based organizations.  For the past several years, a church in Nassau Village has served as a home base for the band as is the case with Ft. Charlotte.  A number of churches also serve as meeting places for the senior citizen's associations.  The ministry wishes to remind the public that a comprehensive report on the urban renewal program was tabled in Parliament in October 2009.

The ministry acknowledges with appreciation the continued support of communities where urban renewal centers are located for the program and the public and private sector partners who assist with the implementation of programs.


Yours, etc.,

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development

Aug 19, 2011