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Sharon Christie has been a member of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) since 2010. In 2012, she took up the position of the Chair of the Revitalisation of Bridgetown Initiative (TRBI), a public-private partnership that aims to transform Bridetown into a 24-hour hub of social and commercial activity. There she oversees the Bridgetown Alive activities, an effort to blend commerce, culture, cuisine, entertainment and heritage and breathe new life into the city.
ESCI: What’s the biggest challenge that your city is currently facing, and what are you doing to address it?
The biggest challenge is that there is no city management in Bridgetown. We (the BCCI) have no authority to do many of the things that we are doing. So what we have done to deal with this is build relationships with all the government agencies that are responsible for making things happen, as well as with all the stakeholders such as the police force, sanitation services, and the businesses in the city. We (the BCCI) see ourselves as the facilitator of business in Bridgetown.
Also, Bridgetown has a lot of history but we are not capitalizing on that. I think we should learn from cities like Annapolis (Maryland) which—just like us—is a historic town located right on the water, and its heritage is well preserved. I would love to see Bridgetown mirror that.
ESCI: What are the typical sights and sounds of Bridgetown?
It depends on the time of the day and the time of the year. Too much sound is that of cars. One of our goals is to pedestrianize the main street. A wonderful plan has been done to really transform the city.
There are other times of the year when the main sound of the city is music, like during Crop Over—the island’s carnival and biggest cultural festival. Also during our winter season, when we have tons of tourists in town, many businesses and restaurants play steel pan music. I would like to hear more music year-round in Bridgetown… and less cars.
Crop Over Festival. Foto: BRTI
ESCI: How would you like Bridgetown to be in 30 years?
My dream is that it will become a thriving 24-hour city. We have started with small programs, and we have tried to do them well. Rather than trying to do everything from the start, we like to start with a small idea and then build or expand on its success.
Read about Thursday Nights Live…in the City, a recent initiative of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) aimed at driving locals and visitors into the commercial center by offering free live entertainment and keeping stores open until 9 p.m.
Bridgetown, Barbados at night. Photo: TRBI