MONTEGO BAY – Government is looking at the possibility of using sections of the Montpelier property in St. James, to provide space for housing solutions in the parish.
Following an assessment tour on April 5, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, said that although the Montpelier lands are primarily used for agricultural production, about 1,000 hectares, which can be categorised as marginal lands, is being viewed as potential housing space.
The tour was to evaluate the potential of the property, which is owned by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and has been earmarked for divestment.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Minister was accompanied on the tour by Minister with responsibility for Housing, in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy; Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier; Managing Director, DBJ, Milverton Reynolds, and several other government technocrats.
“We have looked at the place, and we have in a cursory way, identified areas where we believe housing can be accommodated. It will be subject to some studies…we are mindful also of the environmental impact,” Minister Clarke said.
He informed that the touring party was able to identify areas which could be preserved for forestry; watershed; green spaces and historical sites.
“What we are trying to come up with is a comprehensive development plan for the entire area, mindful of the fact that Montego Bay is actually hemmed in now. There is need for housing for the greater Montego Bay area, (and) in the tourism industry,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dr. Guy, said the development had the potential of being “the Portmore of Montego Bay”.
“Certainly if the approval is made and consideration given for housing, which is an expectation on our part, we would want to look at this as an expansion, not only for Cambridge, but also for the dormitory area of Montego Bay,” he stated.
“One could look at this possibly as the Portmore of Montego Bay, in terms of what we will be proposing and what we are looking at, and it will certainly provide residence for many persons, not only within the tourism sector but the entire working section of Montego Bay and of western Jamaica”, he stated.
He pointed out that such a development would provide a boost in employment during the implementation stage.
The Minister said he would patiently await the final decision of the DBJ, and whether or not an application, which has to be made for change of use for that portion of the lands, is approved.
In the meantime, DBJ’s Managing Director, Milverton Reynolds, pointed out that any decision taken with regards to the use of the property would be done cognizant of the fact that food security is also very critical.
“Clearly from the DBJ’s perspective, we want to work in keeping with the plans that the government have. Clearly the need for housing in this particular area is one that is very critical, and if there are parcels of the property which can be made available for housing, we would be more than happy to do that.” he stated.
Contact: Bryan Miller
JIS Regional Office, Montego Bay