Press Release:- In a press release issued on May 29, 2020 by Invest Saint Lucia (ISL) with regards to the proposed development of the Anse de Sable Area in Vieux-Fort, the CEO claimed that “there had been numerous consultations with the residents in relation to that road and that their concerns, including those of the Vieux-Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change (VF4Cs), had been incorporated into the master plan for the development of the Pointe de Sable”.
In a second press release of June 3, 2020 ISL sought to reinforce this claim by declaring that “the finished master plan reflects the desires of the residents, considering Anse de Sable’s historical and cultural significance and that it is a prime location for socializing and recreational activities”.
VF4Cs wants to make it abundantly clear that the above claims by ISL reflect its self-serving truth about this matter.
Although promised, the finished master plan for Anse de Sable HAS NOT been presented to residents of Vieux-Fort.
Mr. Cherry must make good on his promise and avoid a situation similar to what transpired between SLNT and the GOSL with regards to the demolition of the old Royal Gaol.
It is important for the public to know that ISL held only two “consultations” (Jan. 30 & Mar. 11, 2019) with residents of Vieux-Fort on the Anse de Sable development plans.
VF4Cs also held a meeting with ISL on March 8, 2019 at its offices in Castries to clarify concerns, present and discuss alternative proposals offered by both Vieux-Fort residents and the VF4Cs from the first “consultation”.
By letter dated May 10th. 2019 ISL assured us among other things that “Invest Saint Lucia will be presenting revised drawings of the Master Plan before year end and will invite you and your team as well as members of the community to join us at a subsequent meeting to view the same”.
Up to June 6, 2020 this written promise by the CEO of ISL has not materialized. Residents, VF4Cs and the commercial interests of Vieux Fort are privy only to the initial concept designs presented by ISL/OBMI at the referred consultations and have not seen the final design and/or revised drawings.
Thus, they are unable to ascertain if, and to what extent, their concerns and proposals have been incorporated into the finalized Anse de Sable Master Plan.
ISL is yet to tell the citizens of St. Lucia that the detailed plans for the proposed Anse de Sable Development include a new road (i.e. Mr. Cherry’s “exploratory road”) to be constructed along the south-eastern side of HIA to link Anse de Sable and Vieux-Fort, the sub-division of the recreational space at Sandy Beach, (beach land, Dames Playing Field, Recreation Park, etc.) into sizeable parcels for construction of hotels and other visitor related amenities and, unbelievably and unthinkably, the demolition of the American-built 4-lane concrete highway currently leading to Vieux-Fort to facilitate “Anse de Sable’s transformation into a multi-investment opportunity in the area for both local and foreign interest”.
But the CEO’s explanation for the “exploratory and investigate road works” being carried out along the south-eastern side of the Hewanorra International Airport is deceptive.
We were led to believe at the “consultations” that the plans presented for the development of Pointe de Sable were at the initial stage and that these plans would be finalized and shared with the citizens of Vieux Fort.
This has not happened which leads VF4Cs to conclude that the initial plans for Anse de Sable were in fact a fete accompli and to call into question the real purpose of ISL’s “consultations” with residents of Vieux-Fort.
While VF4Cs awaits ISL’s invitation to attend a presentation on the finalized development plan for Anse de Sable as promised by Mr. Cherry, it seeks answers to pertinent questions such as:
(1) If the plans for the development of Anse de Sable have been finalized then will ISL clearly outline to residents what the scope is for local (and national) participation in investment opportunities and what ISL has put in place to safeguard the share for such participation?
(2): Will the unthinkable and unwise demolition of the existing 4-lane American-built concrete highway running along Anse de Sable be next on the list as part of ISL’s “exploratory and investigative process” in the Anse de Sable Development Plan?
(3): Has ISL taken into consideration that Anse de Sable falls within the Pointe Sable Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA) and as such there are features which ought to be protected. Is this “exploratory and investigative process” being conducted with the knowledge, intervention or approval of critical agencies such as the DCA, SLNT, SLASPA and the Archaeological and Historical Society (A & H)?
(4): Shall the existing green amenity spaces at Sandy Beach remain, be readily accessed and be used in perpetuity by locals/nationals and visitors?
(5): Has the Queen’s Chain, which includes a substantial part of the existing concrete 4-land highway, been re-aligned to facilitate the proposed commercial/touristic development?
(6): Is the proposed development plan for Anse de Sable incorporated into or consistent with a long-term, holistic plan for the development of lands along New Dock Road and the Bruceville Area?
The much-vaunted anticipated benefits of the Anse de Sable Development Plan cannot overshadow the inescapable truth that residents of Vieux-Fort are still in the dark regarding the finalized development master plan for the area.
NDC/ISL must be reminded that it has a history of harassing, disenfranchising, evicting and/or alienating residents of Vieux-Fort from the land resources that surround them. If this practice continues with the Anse de Sable Development it will add to the string of injustices crying for redress using approaches that may have undesirable consequences.