Lack of meaningful consultation on Linden Riverfront project

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Dear Editor,

Construction on the Linden Riverfront utilising the $30M funding from the Ministry of Public Works has been initiated.

The work stated without any formal notification of the Linden Mayor & Town Council, the Region 10 RDC and other stakeholders. Compounding this, is the fact that the governing scope of work was finalised without any input from local stakeholders. The entire process of allocating funds and development of project scope showed scant regard for community interest and desires, local knowledge, and the tenets of community engagement and consultation. It was disempowering to the Linden Community. The last attempt to engage the community and get input on the scope of work occurred in August when Minister Edgill conducted a meeting of stakeholders at Watooka House and at the locations at Coop Crescent and Wismar Market Area.

Onsite, the minister essentially dictated the scope to the Design Engineers. There was no discussion, no reference to design criteria, no reference to future planning; the ideas that were previously shared by the Design Engineers and the stakeholders were disregarded. The consultation process that was in progress was truncated. There was no subsequent meeting note or documentation of the meeting and final scope of the project. Various attempts over several weeks to get an idea of the final scope and status of the project were unsuccessful. Finally, in a phone call to Design Engineers, it was reported that the scope had been finalised and that the contractors were chosen by selective tendering. This, it was stated, was necessary to expedite the process and that there was no time for further consultation.

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The construction work began last week without any notification to the RDC, the Town Council, or the traffic police, as is required. This construction was always expected to be disruptive to businesses, users of the sites, and traffic flow. Normally, under such conditions and locations, best management practice dictates that communication, waste management, and traffic-control plans be prepared and implemented. This was not done. Management of builders’ waste is an essential part of the LM&TC waste management strategy and this project would have been and ideal opportunity to test it. Infrastructure projects offer great opportunity to get community buy in, raise awareness, and develop community ownership and cohesion.

There are usually social and economic impacts during construction and after completion. Such projects also allow the local government organs to institute complementary measures and actions. This was not considered by the Ministry. It is as if the project was by the Ministry for the Ministry, and community concerns and considerations were incidental. The Riverfront and its development is very important to the economic and social development of Linden. This is a universal conceptualization in Linden. The current development should be seen as a minor part of a larger project/development. Statements and actions by the Ministry does not show similar appreciation. While this development is welcomed, the implementation process reinforces the need for a Linden Riverfront Development Master Plan and a more consultative approach to development.

Regards
Samuel Wright



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