October 8, 20121300Views

Monday, October 8Now that the Planning Database has been officially handed over to the Government of the Virgin Islands, the Territory will benefit from an improved development application process and ultimately better coordinated physical development throughout the islands.

The Planning Database was officially handed over on Thursday from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) to the Premier’s Office and the Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD), the Government agencies responsible for physical planning and development control.

The database is being used to collect and monitor all development applications by linking all Government agencies that play an integral role in development; in addition to external stakeholders such as developers and individual applicants, giving them the ability to track their applications in real time.

During his remarks at the handover ceremony at the Premier’s Conference Room, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE said, “We are here today in this formal exchange to signal our continued progress in interconnecting our departments and digitising the services we provide to our customers.”   

He also said the system is ideal with the increased demand for planning development.

The Honourable Premier thanked the TCPD and DDM for partnering on the initiative, stating, “The fact that you see the need to share data and integrate your systems is evidence that our departments are not only intertwined, but interconnected. My Government, is working vigorously to ensure cross-ministry, cross-departmental services are provided.”

Director of DDM Ms. Sharleen Dabreo explained the collaboration between DDM and TCPD was a result of the need for an electronic system to allow for monitoring of planning applications and mitigation measures being implemented at the early stages of the planning and development process.

She thanked CDEMA and its partners for providing the resources needed to develop the database. Ms. Dabreo also said that the database is evidence of integration and mainstreaming of disaster management within a critical sector.

CDEMA’s Executive Director Mr. Jeremy Collymore commended the Virgin Islands for championing the initiative that supports the goal of the CDM-HIP. He also said that the Territory has a highly desirable product that proves that there are real possibilities as it relates to disaster management, not only regionally, but in a global context. He expressed his pleasure in being able to share in what he considers to be an exciting pioneering initiative in the BVI.  He also thanked the donors like UKAID, CIDA and AUSAID for funding the project.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Chief Planner Mr. Ron Beard described the tedious nature and cumbersome result of processing applications manually. Mr. Beard said he was grateful to DDM and CDEMA, who assisted in the completion of Phase 1 of the database project, which allows for the electronic processing of planning applications and monitoring of development.

He also noted that Phase 2 of the project will eventually allow for tracking of applications and drawings submitted online, including public access to check on the progress of applications. Mr. Beard said that TCPD’s staff is currently being trained with a view to introducing the full system in the latter part of 2013.

Database developers Mr. Mikey Farara and Mrs. Susan Augustine of SYSTAR ended the ceremony with a demonstration of the new system. Chairperson of the ceremony was Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office Mrs. Rosalie Adams.

The project was funded under the Comprehensive Disaster Management Harmonized Implementation Programme (CDM-HIP), through CDEMA.