Finally, a place of our own. Residents overjoyed as JP Group signs over 87 plots of land to Coleraine community

June 11, 2022

Remona Smith Andrews, a resident of Coleraine in St Mary, has a new lease on life after the Jamaica Producers Group (JP) officially signed over 87 plots of land on JP Farms’ Chovey Farm in the parish to the informal settlement located on the property.

Smith Andrews could not contain her excitement as she spoke about what the move meant for her and her family. “We can expand,” she said with a laugh, adding that, “for many years, we were unable to even build our homes, our dream homes, with the land not being ours. Now we have this opportunity to build and also it’s an asset, so having this asset, you’re able to have loans and all of those things.”

Smith hopes Coleraine will be an example for other informal communities. “I would really hope that our community would be a prime example for other persons, other citizens elsewhere who are living on lands that are not theirs,” she shared.

The official signing over of the property solidifies a long-term commitment made by JP and the members of the Coleraine community to regularise and develop the area into a safe, well-maintained residential neighbourhood. The signing of this agreement will change the lives of more than 250 people and ultimately result in the residents of the community receiving titles to the plots of land they currently occupy. It’s a vision that Sebrena Edwards, another resident of the community, is already able to visualise. “Based on our vision for our community, we are seeing better housing, nicer space for persons to just relax, because we want to build a green area, we want a community centre, we want a park, and we’re going after all of those and everything else we can manage to put in place,” she said.

While Edwards is planning for now, what the Coleraine Land Grant project means for the future has not escaped her attention. “It means that no one can kick us off to say that we are squatters. It means that our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the generation to come will have a space of their own,” she said.

The Coleraine Land Grant project began a few years ago with the formation of the Coleraine Pines Benevolent Society, a friendly society established by JP and the residents of Coleraine for the regularisation, management and lawful development of the community and to administer the granting of individual titles to residents of Coleraine.

In commenting on the project, JP CEO Jeffrey Hall stated, “St Mary is JP’s home parish. As the largest employer in the parish through JP Farms, we see ourselves first and foremost as members of a vibrant community. For JP, today signifies another major investment by our group in the potential of St Mary and marks the beginning of a long-term partnership with our neighbours at Coleraine, based on mutual respect, to continue to develop St Mary as a place of choice to work and live.”

JP also presented a community development grant of $250,000 to the Coleraine Benevolent Society to be used to jumpstart the further improvement and development of the Coleraine neighbourhood for the benefit of all residents.

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