Silica City was conceptualized in 2013 to tackle the issue of rising sea levels with the creation of an urban centre that is complementary to the existing capital city of Georgetown, but this time, inland. The Government has identified approximately 3,800 acres of state land within the vicinity of the Soesdyke-Timehri area for the urban development.
Housing Minister Collin Croal on Friday disclosed that design will commence this year for a first phase housing development within the proposed residential zone of the new city. This will be done after the block and topographic surveys are completed early this year.
Already, he said, consultations are on-going with the utility companies to coordinate the development of their infrastructure since it is anticipated that a shared utility corridor will cater for all utilities to be routed underground.
Using the ‘Smart City’ approach, the vision is to create a vibrant, sustainable, resilient and modern city in keeping with the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). It is expected to not only be safe and comfortable, but also energy-efficient, interconnected and sustainable.
According to the Minister, it is envisaged that over the next 20 years, the projected population for this new city will be approximately 50,000 (12,500 households) in light of employment creation and accommodating new households within a non-coastal settlement. Therefore, within the first 5 years, it is expected that the city would be developed to cater for at least 3,125 households, approximately 625 units annually.
A preliminary development concept was completed identifying the key features of the smart city approach in terms of residential and non-residential development, transport and infrastructure, sustainable urban drainage, conservation and tourism district, waste management, alternative energy, technological aspects and agriculture.
Detailed designs have commenced for a Golf course resort facility, an Eco- Industrial park and Streetscape designs which are project initiatives of the new city.
The Minister spoke about this new investment during his contribution to the 2022 National Budget debates.
He pointed out that since coming into office in August 2020, the government has met all of its commitments in the housing sector and even surpassed some.
Minister Croal highlighted that during the past year, over 750 informal settlers in Regions Four and Five were regularized while 59 persons squatting on government reserves were relocated.
Further, he noted that the Minister has surpassed the house lot allocation targets set for the first 2 years by allocating more than ten thousand house lots to date.
“Mr. Speaker, we’ve handed out 1,266 land titles and transports, built fifty low income houses at Prospect, one hundred and thirty three moderate income homes at Cummings Lodge, Onderneeming and Amelia’s Ward and one hundred houses for young professionals at Providence. We’ve distributed two hundred and twenty eight home improvement subsidies to the tune of $114M and significantly upgraded the infrastructure in housing developments in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10,” he told the National Assembly.
He highlighted the implementation of a single window electronic processing system to make housing more accessible, the creation of an online portal which allows house lot applicants to upload their applications from the comfort of their homes, providing finance for the construction of homes, the reinstatement of the $30M dollars ceiling for Mortgage Interest Relief, and efforts to provide access to potable water countrywide.
The housing sector is allocated $12.4 billion in the 2022 Budget while $4.9 billion was allocated to continue to improve the water sector.