In the latter half of the 1980s the Association set itself the task of addressing the changing role and increasing demands of planning. On July 11, 1986, the TCPAJ organized a seminar The Spatial Implications of Economic Development Policy at the Inter-Faculty Lecture Theatre of the University of the West Indies, Mona. The main aims of the seminar were to emphasize the invaluable contribution of planning in the creation of sustainable human settlements and to encourage participants to re-focus on the aims, objectives and ideals of planning. The seminar was attended by local professionals, policy makers, civil society and the public. The seminar and publication of the proceedings were made possible through the UNCHS/UNDP project JAM/82/010 Integrated Development Plans as part of its in-service training programme. The National Housing Trust also provided a grant for the publication of the proceedings and USAID Regional Housing Office (Jamaica) provided a speaker for one of the sessions.
Another sub-regional conference for the Caribbean was organized by the Association in 1989. This conference also stressed the changing role of planning in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. Despite this conference the TCPAJ continued to decline throughout the 1990s, although several attempts were made to revive the organization. On July 26, 1995, the TCPAJ held its 21st Anniversary Luncheon. The executive of the Association also sought to introduce a new constitution and registration for planners. A name change to the Jamaican Institute of Certified Planners was proposed and a draft constitution circulated for discussion. The newsletter which had long ceased publication in the 1980s was reintroduced in 1997 as PLANSCOPE, a quarterly publication. However, little progress was made on the proposed name change and constitution, and after two editions PLANSCOPE ceased publication.
During the period 2000 to 2002 the Association received another shot in the arm as it underwent significant organizational change. In a renewed mission to raise the standards of planning practice and education in Jamaica, and the professional development of its members a motion was put forward in 2000 for a name change to the Jamaican Institute of Planners. This was unanimously accepted as it was felt that that the profession had changed locally and internationally and this new name was in keeping with planning’s new perspectives. The issue of registration of planning was once again placed on the agenda and the draft constitution of 1995 was re-circulated for discussion.
A new logo was selected to reflect the organization’s new image and mission. In addition, PLANSCOPE was revived and the JIP introduced quarterly professional development seminars. Membership in the organization improved and the quarterly professional development seminars were well attended.
In 2004, a renewed effort is being made to re-establish the JIP and attract new members. At a well-attended meeting of the organization held June 18, 2004, planners expressed grave concern at how planning has become increasingly sidelined. Planners are no longer central to crucial decisions affecting planning and when planners are brought into the decision making process it is usual after the fact. Planners are then considered as being negative and opposed to progress if they express views which run counter to the proposals. At the above mentioned meeting planners agreed that the JIP must lead the way in reasserting the importance of planners and planning. The launch of this website is part of that process. Also, a concerted effort is being made to conclude discussions on the new constitution, and revive PLANSCOPE and the JIP professional development seminars.
Written by Pauline McHardy
A past president of the Town and Country Planning Association of Jamaica Pauline McHardy is a consultant in urban and regional planning and tourism development.