The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) notes ongoing public interest with regards to the issue of Winnifred Beach in Portland and the matter of public access.
We wish to state that the matter was amicably resolved at mediation and through mutual agreement with each party respecting the other’s rights; a Consent Order was made by the Court. There was no opposition. The Corporation has granted the easement to be recorded on a title that Winnifred will always be a public bathing beach. It has always been the Corporation’s intention to develop the Beach for the good and enjoyment of all Jamaica.
The opportunity has now been created for on-going dialogue with all interest groups as we consider moving ahead with the process of upgrading the UDC-owned Winnifred Beach for the benefit of the people. It is within the remit of the UDC, which has been mandated to make development happen when and where it is needed within the context of national priorities, to work with our various stakeholders in advancing the development of the wider area in this section of Northeast Portland.
We must use this opportunity to also point out that the UDC has been contributing over the last four years to the development of a Beach Access and Management Policy as part of a multi-agency Beaches and Coastal Resources Conservation Committee. This committee is a sub-committee of the NRCA/NEPA board which is responsible for the enforcement of the policy. The submissions which are now at the advanced stage aim to protect the interest of the Jamaican people in a responsible way by ensuring public access within the legal framework.
However, to ensure public recreational facilities are available for all Jamaicans for social purposes, the UDC has for several decades operated several beaches across the island either directly or through lease arrangements. These beaches are easily accessible to the public and for most of these we or our lessee ask for a nominal fee ranging from $50 to $250 to cover recurring expenditure for critical services. These mandatory services which every world class beach must have include lifeguards, proper sanitation, security, general maintenance and water quality monitoring.
The Corporation is not averse to partnering with communities for the sustainable development and protection of key natural assets. A cursory look at the Reach Falls attraction in Portland is an example of community partnership and consultation as most of the workers are drawn from the community and all efforts are made to ensure the attraction is preserved from environmental degradation.
We are constrained by the spirit of our Corporate Values and Philosophy which state that we see ourselves as an organization of people serving people. We are committed to making development happen for the people of Jamaica while nurturing a culture which values both our internal and external customers and is sensitive to their needs.