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Government holds meeting with Canouan activist – beach access still unresolved

Government holds meeting with Canouan activist – beach access still unresolved

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Following a meeting between members of the Canouan Island Development Council (CIDC) and Government representatives concerning several issues on Canouan, there still seems to be displeasure over the issue of beach access for the public.

Speaking with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, Canouan activist and head of the CIDC Terry Bynoe said that although a solution was put forward by the Canouan {{more}}developers and government representatives, he does not think it is satisfactory.

Bynoe and three other CIDC representatives met with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Godfred Pompey yesterday morning, where it was outlined to them that the developers at Canouan Resort Development (CRD) Ltd have agreed to provide a shuttle service for members of the public, so that they can access the Godahl, Pink Sand and Twin Bay beaches.

Pompey, who also spoke with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, said that the access has to be controlled and carried out in an “orderly manner”.

“One has to appreciate when you have guests and their activities, one has to appreciate that it must be controlled – the right for privacy and other security reasons,” he said.

Persons wishing to access the beach will have to submit notification (in advance) that they are desirous of accessing the beach, and the development company will transport beach-goers from the main road through CRD Ltd property to the beach.

“This happens elsewhere in the Caribbean,” pointed out the Permanent Secretary.

However, Bynoe is far from pleased with this compromise, which he pointed out has been brokered between the Government representatives and the developers, and is not in the best interest of citizens.

“That is not the law; that is just a favour. What if they decide not to do it tomorrow? What about me, who has an injunction, wanting access to the public beach? He (Pompey) said he not dealing with my issue; my issue is a legal one.”

Bynoe said that he came up with an alternative idea that would solve the issue of public access to the various beaches and wouldn’t require a shuttle service having to be provided by the developers.

He said that he suggested that a road be constructed in the Twin Bay area that goes down to the beach, along with the construction of a parking lot. Additionally, he suggested that a boardwalk be built that would lead from Twin Bay into Godahl beach and also to Carenage Bay.

“The boardwalk I see as an attraction for tourism as well, where tourists can come and walk on the boardwalk on moonlit nights.”

However, Bynoe said that Pompey was not interested in his suggestions.

“He said he’s not interested in that. So, I went there with a solution so persons wouldn’t have to drive down into the centre of the resort… If you don’t want to explore that, it leads me only to believe now that you basically don’t want persons in that beach property area.”

He added: “I am very disappointed… I don’t think persons want to see us in that beach area.”

Pompey, however, said that the issue of beach access remains a sore point because “an element in the Council” is determined to individualize it.

“It is difficult to do that because we have to look at the interests of all the people of Canouan and St Vincent – not just an individual.”

Pompey further said that he indicated to the individual in question – Terry Bynoe – that the matter of his barred access is a legal matter that is “beyond the Ministry”.

“From what I understand, that matter is in Court, and he has to wait the outcome of that matter. So, we cannot go down the line of individualizing access to the beach.”

The Permanent Secretary also noted that the beaches are all accessible from the sea, and there would be no restrictions nor limitations on anyone who chose to enter via that route.

Bynoe said that the next step now is to discuss the results of the meeting with the rest of the Council and then hold a public meeting to get the feedback from Canouan residents on how they want to progress with the matter.

“If the public decides that we will continue to hold picnics until the Government comes with a solution, we will do so. So, there is where it stands at the moment.”

The CIDC president also pointed out that the Government is supposed to represent the interests of all citizens, regardless of their political affiliation.

“Where are we going with this? I see this as maybe an indication, maybe on Mr Pompey’s end, to try and divide Canouan people to go against each other on this issue!” he lamented.

“I ain’t giving up my rights. I don’t care who wants to give up their rights, I not giving up mine!”

In addition to the matter of beach access, Pompey and the CIDC representatives also discussed the availability of plots of land that can be purchased by Canouan residents; the relocation of Canouan’s cemetery, which has been closed for a number of years due to the threat of cholera; the repair of roads throughout Canouan; and the refurbishment of the island’s water reservoir.

Speaking with SEARCHLIGHT, Pompey also disclosed that he and director of Grenadines Affairs Edwin Snagg had met with developers and members of the business community in Canouan last Friday, April 8, to hash out other matters.

In addition to beach access, Pompey, Snagg and the developers at CRD Ltd and the marina discussed the zoning restrictions imposed on ‘yachties’. This was also a matter he discussed with the business community – pointing out to them that zoning does not hinder the swimming and fishing activities of locals.

“There is no limitation on that. So, there was some misunderstanding that was cleared up at that meeting. It was just a matter of public education.”

In speaking with the developers of the marina being constructed in the south of Canouan, Pompey said that agreements were made regarding further development of the area and the establishment of a training programme for young persons who wish to get into the yachting sector.

He also said that development of the marina is “progressing smoothly”, and it is expected that it will commence operations in June/July.

“There is some prospect there in terms of employment for the people of Canouan.” (JSV)

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