As a member of the Citizens in Defence of the Grenada’s Land and Heritage group which led the 2008-2009 struggle, Protect the Lagoon Park – from Port Louis’ cottages on the Lagoon Park and Camper and Nicholson’s buildings on the Lagoon Park, I am quite intrigued by the above-referenced article on the local news section of New Today, issue of week ending July 15th, page 8.
According to this news story (all emphases my own):-
Back on the Agenda: Given that elections were out of the way, beautification of the Lagoon Road was “back on the agenda” of several locals who were planning to develop a section of it around Bryden & Minors and turn it into a Green space – “a nice green space in Lagoon Road for families and people.”
Permission to Locals: “…….locals will be allowed to use the area on some nights to sell hot dogs and the like.”
Camper & Nicholson “On Board”: A female spokesperson for the group advised:-
Help with Clean-up: A key business in the area, Camper and Nicholson was on board to help in the clean-up of the space that is currently occupied by some squatters;
*“I went straight to the Chairman of the Board – Camper is fully on board with me…”
Keeping Away Squatters: Camper had developed an area in the Lagoon to put their construction material when they were developing the yachting area; after the work was completed, a local businessman engaged in the trawler and container business was allowed to utilise it in order to keep away squatters.
Area Under Licence: This area was under licence from the Grenada Ports Authority and Camper pays the Ports Authority an annual fee to keep the space since it was supposed to be removed once the construction was completed.
Five (5) Year Lease of Reclaimed Area: The spokesperson advised that she has suggested to Camper & Nicholson that, if the company is paying to maintain the reclaimed area, then there is no need to break it down and bring it back into sea water as is the agreement. Instead the Ports Authority should lease it to Camper for 5 years to be added to the proposed Green Space.
Putting Some Benches: According to the spokesperson, “Let’s put some benches on it because it is very well compacted so it’s kind of looking to see what we can do with it. We are trying to pull heads together to make it a positive space. We will get the money – I ain’t worry about that”.
Did Camper & Nicholson Contribute to the Eyesore?
Undoubtedly, the rehabilitation of the area and resolution of the squatting issue are needed actions/interventions. This “good citizens” proposal needs to be seen/understood in the broader context of the question – what was Camper and Nicholson’s contribution to that area of the Lagoon Park becoming the EYESORE that it is today.
The news story did not indicate the identity of the group. Based on the utterances of the spokesperson, the group seems pretty well-connected, particularly with Camper and Nicholson. WHO is this group and what is their motivation? What is this group’s connection with the Lagoon Park? Are they simply being “good citizens” or are there other connections/considerations?
Some of we the people who are aware of Camper & Nicholson’s claim to ownership of that area of the Lagoon Park therefore have reason to wonder whether there is more in the mortar beside the pestle.
Elections and Beautification
What is the significance of the timing of this initiative? What does the timing of elections have to do with it – given that elections were out of the way, beautification of the Lagoon Road was “back on the agenda” ….of several locals who were planning develop a section of it ….?
Permission to Locals
I found this statement particularly interesting: – “…….locals will be allowed to use the area on some nights to sell hot dogs and the like….”. What does this statement mean? Who already has authority over this space to determine who can/cannot use the area? I really do hope that one would be able to get permission to sell roast corn!!!
This reference to reclaimed land is particularly interesting – the suggestion by the female spokesperson that Camper & Nicholson should obtain a five-year lease from the Grenada Ports Authority for the reclaimed land and add it to the proposed green space.
Camper and Nicholson did not clean-up after it completed construction of its berth. It left all the debris in the vicinity of the park. The little that was there, like the concrete bench under the poui tree, was destroyed during the temporary reclamation or by the operations of the container park that the area became and still is.
Mixing of concrete was accommodated in the area, apparently to make concrete slabs. So one can well see that Camper & Nicholson violated the Lagoon Park with the complicity of the “authorities”.
Lagoon Park is a PUBLIC Green Space
EVERYONE knows that the Lagoon Park area IS a public green space and some persons may be aware that the Lagoon Park was identified as an area designated to be part of the National Parks System that the administration of the New National Party violated.
The creation of the Park was initiated by a resident expatriate, Ms. Betty Frisbee and Friends (God bless them!) back in 1986 with the development of the Lagoon Road and Port Highway.
The Park stretches from the Alleyne Francique Roundabout, right around the Lagoon Road, adjoining the area that was once occupied by the Turtle Man, (opposite Patrick’s Restaurant).
It was challenging, but with the support of the local business community and community leaders, a committee was established to maintain the park. And just when it seemed that things were working and all on board, in 2006, one began to hear whispers of the sale of the park, buildings on the park etc. etc.
C & N Claim of Ownership of Lagoon Park
The “section around Bryden & Minors” to which the spokesperson is referring is that area of the Lagoon Park to which Camper & Nicholson has been laying claim since they acquired the marina (land and marine area) from Peter deSavary’s Port Louis.
Prior to Camper and Nicholson’s acquisition of the property – announced in December 2007 – Peter DeSavary had announced plans to build cottages on the Lagoon. Then, in 2008, one Mr. Bru Pearce, the first General Manager of the Camper & Nicholson Port Louis marina, on a Sundays with George Grant Programme, announced:-
- Reclamation Rights: Camper & Nicholson had reclamation rights to the Lagoon Park area, from Glean’s jetty to the area formerly occupied by the turtle back man;
- Mixed Use Development: It also had permission for 50 percent mixed use development on that area; marina related structures would be substituted for the cottages.
Note also the following reference from Camper and Nicholson Marina Investment Annual Report of 2011:-
“Acquisition of the marina in 2008 included an area of land with planning consent for the construction of commercial and residential properties. An independent valuation of this land was conducted during July 2011 which gave a value of US$1.8 million in its present state or c. US$9 million with lands reclaimed which it is estimated would cost US$1.5 million.”
Protect the Lagoon Park
The announcements by deSavary and Pearce respectively catapulted concerned citizens into Protect the Lagoon Park: No Cottages/Buildings on the Lagoon Park awareness and action. So in 2009, when the local community citizens/users of the existing Lagoon Park and concerned citizens noted the preparations for reclamation around that area of the Lagoon Park, they raised the alarm.
There were a press conference on the Lagoon Park area under threat, a meeting with Prime Minister Thomas, a stakeholders meeting on July 9th, 2009 which included Camper & Nicholson’s representatives, a picket and a number of public fora.
In a meeting of July 7th, 2009, with the concerned citizens and users of the Lagoon Park, Prime Minister Thomas gave assurances that there would be no cottages/buildings on the Lagoon Park and that the area would remain a public green space and heritage site for the enjoyment of all Grenadians and our visitors.
In July 2009 Camper and Nicholson was granted permission for a three year period re the temporary backfilling along the Lagoon foreshore to facilitate mobilisation of equipment for berth construction. A USD60,000.00 bond was deposited with the Grenada Ports Authority in the event that C & N failed to restore the area, it would be restored by the Ports Authority.
C&N Threatened Legal Action
Challenging Temporary Reclamation
Following the completion of construction of the berths, via letter of July 2012, legal counsel for Camper & Nicholson wrote to the Attorney-General, claiming breaches of the Camper and Nicholson Grenada Ltd. Project Agreement and Lease Agreement with the Government of Grenada.
In reference to the permission for temporary reclamation, the letter advised as follows/made the following claims:-
Right to reclaim land: the requirements for a bond and the condition of temporary reclamation were contrary to the company’s right to reclaim land on the Lagoon edge as per Project Agreement;
Return of Bond Amount: requested the return of the bond in full;
Entitlement to Reclaim Land: requesting confirmation of its entitlement (??) to reclaim the area; and
Year Lease: requested a 99-year (?) lease of the reclaimed land.
Response to Demands
We the people are unaware of how the “authorities” responded to the demands. But the reclaimed area is very much there. Were all of Camper & Nicholson demands met, particularly after New National Party swept back into office in February 2013?
Camper and Nicholson did not clean up at the end of the period. The remaining concrete bench under a pink poui tree, was destroyed as the area became a container park and still is, some 13 years after!!
Annual Fee to Keep the Area
According to the spokesperson, Camper and Nicholson pays an annual fee to the Grenada Ports Authority to keep the space since it was supposed to be removed once the construction was completed.
Based on the information given by the spokesperson, one can conclude that a very DELIBERATE action was taken by Camper & Nicholson to maintain its hold/claim to ownership of the reclaimed area.
A local businessman engaged in the trawler and container business was allowed to utilise the reclaimed area in order to keep away squatters.
Other Challenges/Claims by C&N
The letter also requested/reiterated the company’s claims re the following:-
Waste Collection: Under the Project Agreement, Government is responsible for ensuring waste collection service from the site. To date no such service has been provided.
The company was requesting that:-
Procurement of Waste Collection Services: Government procures waste collection service for the marina.
Re-imbursement of costs: Costs incurred by the company to date be reimbursed by the government.
Sewage Connections: A sewer connection had not been provided up to date up to the Site boundary. It had done all the works, including the roadworks, on its own to obtain sewage connection. Reimbursement of costs were demanded – EC628, 427.
Request for Tax Rebates: Camper and Nicholson was also claiming breaches of fiscal incentives and requesting rebates and application of the Project Agreement to “its fullest terms”:-
VAT on indirect costs such as paper, toilet cleaning supplies etc.
Stamp tax on its revenue
Stamp duty, sales taxes, taxes re receipts of rents and profits from land in the hands of the land owner and/or subsequent purchasers.
Customs Service Charges levied on “consumables” e.g. customs service charges on flags and uniforms.
Granting Alien Land Holding Licences to Alien Directors of the Land Owner: The company also claimed that the issue of Alien Land Holding Licences now and in the future to any alien directors of the “Land Owner” was an obligation and that the Manager at that time, July 2012, had not received his own after a delay of two years.
6. Camper and Nicholson and the Green Space on the Lagoon
Camper and Nicholson contributed to the EYESORE that area of the Lagoon Park has become. It does have an OBLIGATION to clean-up as per its agreement for a temporary licence. Now that it is ready to clean-up, what’s next on its agenda?
We the people must remember the lessons of the past! Peter deSavary wined and feted the residents of community, then broke down their pan house and community centre.
The fishermen of the area got a food from Camper and Nicholson for Fisherman’s Birthday celebrations in 2009 and agreed to temporary reclamation and occupation by Camper and Nicholson. It is now 2022, some 13 years after!
Citizens in Defence of Grenada’s Lands and Heritage has traced the transactions re Ballast Ground, Lagoon Park and the Lagoon, from people’s property to Port Louis and Camper & Nicholson Port Louis Marina.
The secrecy and lack of disclosure in respect of the various agreements along the continuum of transfer and ownership is a deeply worrying one. Answers must be demanded and obtained from the “authorities”.
And as Camper and Nicholson is about to “clean up”, another question is to be asked – now that Bank of Nova Scotia has left, which bank now holds the MORTGAGE of OUR Lagoon for the USD15 million loan from Bank of Nova Scotia in 2009. Or has the loan been finally paid off?
Questions about the transactions pertaining to the Lagoon is a matter of the FUTURE – have our children and the future generation been deprived of their birthright? What are we leaving for them?