Marching To The Beat Of The Drum
A comment by an anonymous commenter to BU yesterday resonated for most of the day. The relevant excerpt: to date the land use policies of the Thompson administration and the Arthur administration are indistinguishable. I would dare say the immigration policies are also similar but for the amnesty period now in place. The feeble implementation of a physical development plan by the authorities in the last twenty years has seen a haphazard approach to land development in Barbados and sad to say remains a concern two years into the Thompson government. The fact of the matter is there is truth to the comment if interpreted in a dispassionate way.
The land policy of the former administration which has seen the West Coast of Barbados assaulted with all but a few windows to the sea remaining is well documented. The current government during the last election campaign made some noises about adopting a different approach to land development but so far can anyone say there has been a shift?
On the weekend at the official opening of the Sugar Cane Club Minister Richard Sealy was quoted in the nation newspaper as follows, Government has identified the north-west corridor of the island, as an area for greater tourism development. Sealy is confident tourism projects planned for the island’s north coast will increase the economic and tourism activity in that “northern corridor.” Emphasis on the North West corridor is instructive for two reasons 1) the South and West Coast corridors have already been bulldozed in the name of economic development by former governments and 2) Prime Minister David Thompson is on record that the Eastern Seaboard of Barbados is off-limits.
Minister Sealy was further quoted as saying, a number of private/public sector tourism projects on stream in the north, among them a marina at Six Mens Bay, and a major tourism project at Harrison’s Point where Rosewood Hotels and Resorts is scheduled to build a five-star resort on 82 acres.
The mixed-use property will comprise condominiums, a hotel, shops and other resort-related facilities. It is a Government-private sector venture. Though Sealy said that the project was “not moving as fast as we would like” because of the current global economic conditions, he pointed out it was still on stream. In addition,he said the marina at Six Mens Bay was supposed to start later this year. The earlier comment by the anonymous commenter is apt here because we believe the Six Mens and Rosewood developments are legacy projects continued by the current administration.
The need for foreign direct investment is important to a country like Barbados. What is equally important is the need for any land development, especially on the coast to be planned to protect the environment. The environmental concern is important because the damage to our coastline could threaten our tourism product and by extension the economic survival of Barbados and therefore nulls the wholesale FDI argument put forward by the previous government. There is also the valid argument of balancing development with nature to ensure the natural beauty of Barbados is protected.
For those who believe that concerns about the impact on the environment because of the runaway development on our coastland especially is not legitimate, we recommend reading two comments posted by The Oracle (1,2) on the Accra Beach blog.
The Thompson government has taken some positions which have been popular. The reality maybe that when judged in the context of what is fluff or substance physical development planning for Barbados has changed little. Perhaps there is still time for the government to depart from the practices of old.