It must be made clear from the onset that, while I support preservation of our environment, I have come to terms with what, to my mind, is indisputable -- no other species on planet earth are as valued as people. A stable and vigorous environment cannot long survive to the detriment of humans; integral to the environment, both must coexist. In order of environmental standing, people’s needs supersede all else -- sustainable human life, health and prosperity.
Where conflicts occur, resolution lives in carefully balanced and managed mitigation – compromise: the coming together of competing interest in which each gives ground to find the synergy in moving forward. Notwithstanding good faith agreements among negotiating parties, adverse comments by fringe groups will continue.
Case in point: the Carriacou Tyrell Bay Marina project.
Democracy always has a place for the dissenting voice – however where the people have spoken – clearly and loudly – 15 times over – their will must be carried out. Voices from Carriacou (C/cou) and Petite Martinique (PM) echoed, in a decisive victory at the polls, on February 2013, left no doubt that C/cou and PM had given the New National Party (NNP) and Dr Mitchell the “green light.” Patience wore thin with frazzled nerves waiting on a defective “yellow light.”
The Tyrell Bay marina development is not a phantom project -it has been online for more than eight years; those opposed to it have had ample opportunity to voice opinions, produce evidence and do whatever they wished, in what manner they wished, within the bounds of law -- and without hindrance – to convince the people of C/cou and PM that the project was ill-conceived.
Today, it is obvious that they have not succeeded -- and while their right to continue to protest must be respected – in the spirit of democracy - they too must respect the overwhelming endorsement of the sisters and brothers of C/cou and PM and legal authority given Carriacou Development Corporation to proceed and complete the project.
Dr Mitchell on the campaign trail made a commitment to the sisters and brothers of C/cou and PM that he would see the completion of the marina – it was no secret – and at the polls on Feb 19th 2013 C/cou and PM spoke loud and clear – they gave the Doc the mandate he asked for to press forward with the completion of the marina. So here we are today.
Nevertheless, I am saddened that some of the mangroves have had to give way to development, but comforted that our sisters and brothers who live in squalor and ghetto-like conditions – not of their own making -- will in the near future -- have opportunities to find jobs and skill training to lift them and future generations of children from the misery of poverty.
The merchants, shopkeepers, street venders and farmers, boatmen, taxis and guest houses will all benefit from the spin off -- business opportunities that will follow. By its nature, the marina project is inclusive. Inclusiveness - fulfilling the primary aim of Prime Minister Mitchell’s Project Grenada.
The downside, loss of mangroves, a compromise that must be seen in the wider context of sustainable jobs and livelihoods for people who have for generations had little hope of pulling themselves and their families out of the depths of poverty and despair; a rescue mission, a mission of mercy for the downtrodden and the forgotten, a humanitarian mission. Walk in their shoes; they have lost their “soul.”
It must here be noted that development may be a factor that can be mitigated, and realistically, cannot be labelled as the major contributor to environmental degradation. The most significant causes are: turf wars, lack of legitimate power of organizations to deal responsibly with managing environmental issues, shortages in man power, no clear vision, improper audit and inspection procedures, and insufficient training especially for those on the ground responsible for day to day operations. As my grandmother would say, “development is the low fence.”
For decades our people have been charmed and scammed by the now familiar, figures emerging from ships and planes coming over the horizon; we know not from whence they come or who they are. They descend upon us like wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The genuine, we shall always welcome. However, there are those who live in luxury and comfort, those who are never in want, those who receive foreign funding and use our people as the conduit to luxurious living – who have no feeling and do not care for the plight of the most vulnerable upon whom they prey – who enjoy hefty salaries, trips and hotel accommodations, who parade over and over as consultants with no tangible results for the people they pretend to help – the Ponzi never ends – again and again they come before us – it is time that we say no, a resounding no!
The Tyrell Bay Marina, sisters and brothers, is a home grown project – respected names in the village of Windward we have known for eons and can trust; born and raised in C/cou -- we must be proud of our own.
With oversight, proper management and a firm commitment from Carriacou Development Corporation to international monitoring and mitigation standards, the marina and mangroves can coexist, boosting the sagging C/cou and PM economy and bringing urgently needed cash to rum shops and street venders, the backbone of the once thriving C/cou and PM underground economy.
C/cou has the unique opportunity to showcase to the region, and indeed to the developing world, that harmony between vibrant economic development and environment sustainability is attainable – let’s go forward confidently.
With this quote I exit, “Events will take their course, it is no good of being angry at them; he is happiest who wisely turns them to the best account.”