Members of the St. Catherine community have been urged to put their differences aside as they worked towards the progress and development of their parish.
The call was made by Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague, at a Visioning Symposium, held at the Twickenham Park Open Bible Church in St. Catherine on Monday (March 8).
Hundreds of St. Catherine residents, along with representatives of various national and community-based organisations turned out for the symposium, which was organised by the Department of Local Government in collaboration with the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the Social Development Commission (SDC), the Parish Development Commission, and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
Minister Montague told the residents that their input was valuable and essential for the drafting of a development plan for the parish of St. Catherine and “that (was) the reason they were invited to the consultations.
“We could have engaged a consultant to tell what the needs of the people were, but the Prime Minister said, ‘we must go into the fields, into the communities and engage the people, talk to the people, listen to the people, because they know exactly what is going on and they know what they want’,” he told the packed hall.
“So, we are here today to find out from you what your needs are and where you want to see your community go,” he said.
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague, is in discussion with Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, and Member of Parliament for Central St. Catherine, Hon. Olivia Grange (right) and St. Catherine Parish Manager at the Social Development Commission (SDC), Edith Morrison, at the St. Catherine Visioning Symposium held today (March 8), at the Twickenham Park Open Bible Church in the parish.
Mr. Montague further told the residents that they should put their various differences aside, including political and religious preferences, as they are Jamaicans before anything else.
The St. Catherine symposium is one in a series being staged in parishes across the island by the Department of Local Government, geared towards the development of a
20-year sustainable plan for each local government jurisdiction in Jamaica.
The purpose of the symposia is to provide a forum for forging a vision for the development of each community and parish and to ensure that such a vision is the collective product of all relevant stakeholder groups in the parish.
The events also provide citizens with information on how to access benefits from agencies and organisations that can be of assistance in supporting projects and community activities.
Director in the Planning and Development Unit at PIOJ, Layla Palmer, said with a population of close to 500,000 residents and numerous untapped resources, St. Catherine is in a good position for progress.
Following the State Minister’s presentation, residents participated in workshop sessions to discuss topics such as: infrastructure and the environment; economic development; wealth creation; agriculture; social services; and governance.