ARCHITECTURE ON THE SIDELINES

The last few years haven’t been kind to Architects in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The once-booming construction sector was brought to a near-standstill by the global economic downturn.

The profession of Architecture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has long been sidelined by policy makers and local Architects have long fought an uphill battle to have the profession regulated as it is done in the rest of the world.

Now Architecture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines – which requires considerable education and work ethic, and has traditionally served a wide range of functions – is in trouble. How did a noble profession— purportedly licensed to “protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public”—fall so far?

Architects from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Institutes of Architect (SVGIA) lobbied and struggled for decades to get the profession regulated until finally, on the 18th day of October, 2011, the SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES ARCHITECTS ACT was passed in the house of assembly.

To date –seven years after – even with strong lobbying from the SVGIA and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Architects Council (SVGAC), the Act has not been implemented. The passing of the Act was a clear indication that as a developing nation we were moving in the right direction with interest in the wellbeing of our citizenry. So then why is the Act not implemented yet?

The general purpose of the Act is to provide for the registration of architects, to regulate the practice of architects and the practice of architecture in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The proper regulatory framework is already in place –The SVGIA, the passing of the Act, and the formation of SVGAC – but for whatever reason, the implementation of the Act seems not to be of interest to policy makers. It seems to have been tuck away on the back shelves of bureaucracy.

The Act will help to address one of the major issues facing the profession -the free flow of foreign Architects to St. Vincent and the Grenadines without proper license to work/practice as an architect in our country.

The local Architects in SVG can argue that this non-implementation of the Architects Act 2011 is unfair and unprogressive. It seems that one good step was taken in passing the Act – making it law and binding in SVG – but now the true purpose of the Act is being suffocated from bureaucratic negligence and indifference.

Why should our local Architects who have chosen a career that has the wellbeing of the public at its core, be subjected to such unfair treatment? Why should our local Architects have to unfairly compete with foreign unlicensed architects to make a living?

Why should our recent architecture graduates have to go and work in a different field just because our profession is not regulated and provides no security? IT IS UNFAIR!

How can we as a country boast of sustainable development when a profession as noble and significant as Architecture is being sidelined?

This unfair treatment will stifle the profession and ultimately dissuade upcoming generations not to study architecture. The final outcome can only be disastrous – our dependence on foreign architects in the future – if the status quo is kept.

It is high time that the policy makers understand that the health safety and welfare of the public is highly hinged on the implementation of the SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES ARCHITECTS ACT. After seven years there should be nothing preventing the implementation of the Act.

Secretary SVGIA