Lands commission created to manage public use

| 05/02/2018 | 31 Comments
Cayman News Service

Public Lands Commission (L-R) Carla Reid, Teddie Ebanks, Ezmie Smith, Robert Bodden, Stran Bodden, Christina McTaggart-Pineda, and Chair Rupert Vasquez. Missing is Temple Tatum.

(CNS): Government has now created the Public Lands Commission, a body established in the 2017 Public Lands Law, which will help regulate the use and enjoyment of public land and implement government’s policies. The creation of the PLC comes against a backdrop of mounting concern about beach access and the challenges presented by some beachfront landowners trying to prevent members of the public walking along, using or accessing the coastlines around the three islands. Officials said this would be a priority for the new body.

The newly founded commission will be chaired by a civil servant, as designated by the law. Director of Lands and Survey Rupert Vasquez will serve for two years. The other seven commissioners are Tourism Chief Officer Stran Bodden, Tourism Attraction Board Chair Carla Reid, J. Robert Bodden, Teddie Ebanks, Christina McTaggart-Pineda, Temple Cleveland Tatum, and Ezmie Smith, a prominent member of the activist group, Concerned Citizens, which has been campaigning for years to register beach access points to prevent them from being lost.

Aside from ensuring that policy and rules surrounding public land use is upheld, the commission will have the authority to issue permits for the use of commercial activities and organised events on public lands and respond to complaints about the use or misuse of public land.

Minister for Lands Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said, “One of the government’s priorities is to ensure that our people benefit from a healthy environment, which means we want to continue to ensure that beach access is maintained and managed to the benefit of locals and visitors alike. While the commission is in its developing stage and there are still regulatory and policy matters to be finalised, it is tasked with protecting the right of access to and use of public land by members of the public, including enforcement of public rights of way over private land.”

As chair of the new commission, Vasquez said the “eager and committed group” had already met three times and he was aware of the public interest in the issue of beach access.

“The commission is aware of the various media reports, concerns and interests that have been generated in respect to public beach accesses across our islands, and I confirm that this is also a matter of high priority for the commission,” he said. “The PLC is the designated government authority which can apply to the Grand Court for the settlement of public right of way access disputes arising under the Prescription Law, and it can deal with unregistered public accesses to the beach.”

Vasquez said the commission would implement the law fully, including consultation with government in relation to making Regulations for the Public Lands Law.

The commission also said it was aware of the importance of the proper use of public lands and would strive to ensure that the Law and its Regulations, once passed by Cabinet, are implemented in a fair and equitable manner. As the PLC shares the public’s desire to have various public land matters addressed in a timely manner, meetings of the PLC will be held as frequently as possible in order to ensure that the necessary procedures are in place to implement the spirit of the Public Lands Law.

“The commission has been provided with draft regulations for consultation and they will govern the public conduct and use of public spaces and protection of public lands; the regulations are absolutely necessary in order for the commission to fulfill its role,” Vasquez added. He  said the recommendations from the Ministry of Lands would need to be approved by Cabinet.

The Public Lands Law allows for the appointment of staff to assist the commission in their duties and for an inspectorate regime to assist with the enforcement of the Public Lands Law. It also allows for the appointment of a chief inspector, additional inspectors, and a secretary to the PLC. The chief inspector may also designate various officers from government statutory authorities, companies or departments, such as the Department of Commerce and Investment or Department of Environment, as deputy inspectors to assist in the enforcement of this law.

These positions have been approved in the Ministry of Lands’ 2018 budget, and they will assist in the enforcement of the law and provide administrative support to the PLC. It is anticipated that the recruitment process for these posts will commence within the next quarter.

“As the Public Lands Commission begins its journey to regulate the use of public lands to the benefit of the people of the Cayman Islands, I trust that the 2017 Beach Access Report, which will shortly be released to the Commission and the general public, will be a key reference tool to assist it in taking action for situations such as protecting the right of access to and use of public land,” said O’Connor-Connolly.

“The report can also be used as a reference to gather evidence with which to apply to the Grand Court on behalf of the public for the settlement of public right of way access disputes.”

The PLC and ministry plans to keep the general public informed on the development of this new reform, as well as providing stakeholders with clarity on the new law in order to ensure compliance.

Members of the public may access a copy of the Public Lands Law (2017) by visiting the documents and law tab at www.caymanlandinfo.ky

Queries and complaints regarding the Public Lands Law may be sent to the Public Land Commission at [email protected]

Correspondence can be sent to the Chair of the Public Lands Commission by physical delivery to the Government Administration Building or via postal delivery to PO Box 1089, Grand Cayman, KY1-1102 Cayman Islands.

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Category: Local News

Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Anyone with a legal mind appointed to propose and draft changes to the law?




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  2. West bay Premier says:

    More jobs created again , and no Public beach access getting fixed permanently . This is a Government fix to the problem .
    I still don’t understand why the Government purchased the property to the north of Smith cove ? And why they didn’t say that this is the boundaries of Smith cove .
    That makes me think that the Government has NO INTENTIONS OF EVER FIXING THE PUBLIC BEACH ACCESS , that’s why this new Commision is formed to keep the lid on the topic until it’s forgotten about .
    To the Activist Group you open your eyes and don’t stop until the Public access are fixed permanently . Because this Commission is going to do squat .




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  3. Anonymous says:

    Give them a chance, I know it goes against the grain, and we are all jaded about unfulfilled promises…guys, if you need teeth to enforce, make sure CIG gives you those teeth and that you enforce the laws, and educate the police and other agencies on what the law is. If you are unable to do that, you are wasting your time and public money.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Remember my fellow Caymanians!! the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Make the squeak so loud and maddening that the powers that be will have no other choice but to silence the squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    another civil service talk shop filled with people who do not know what they are talking about…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps one way to “ensure that our people benefit from a healthy environment” is to have a functioning environmental protection law and enforcement regime….




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  7. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they should start by “educating” the condo owners and the security guards on SMB. yesterday, after going to the Ritz for brunch we sat on the beach in front of XXXXXX. A long way in front, about half way between their chairs and the ocean. A few minutes later their security guard asked us to move, accompanied by comments from guests staying there saying it was their beach. I pointed out the law that the beach was public. In fact, if we wished we could sit by, but not on, their chairs. Shortly after two police officers arrived, who also suggested we moved! They did not seem to understand the law. We did not move, as we were a long way from the elite and were certainly not disturbing them. Maybe the sight of a middle aged couple with their baby grandson did not agree with their aesthetics. It was embarrassing for our visitors to these islands to witness this arrogance. When we decided to leave and used the “beach access” (I wonder why they would be confused about public access to the beach, when there are clearly labelled paths on either side of their property?), one especially rude women shouted out “good, you’re going, we paid 2.6 (I assume she meant millions) for our place and this is our beach. She should be ashamed of herself.




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    • Anonymous says:

      What?? I am most disturbed by the police officers suggesting that you move. Beaches in Cayman are public and should remain so!




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    • Anonymous says:

      you were 100% wrong. beaches up to the high water mark are private property.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Incorrect. Beaches up to the high water mark are PUBLIC.




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        • Anonymous says:

          Correct, the 4-5 feet at the water’s edge. If someone’s setting up their Heineken beach camp with leashless wild rescue dogs 50 feet up from shore, don’t be surprised if someone from the condo asks you to move along.




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        • Fred the Piemaker says:

          depends which side you approach the high water mark from…. think the OP meant from the land side to the high water mark (which lets face it isn’t that far from the waters edge most of the time. Mind you, it may be privately owned, but aren’t there rights of access to beach even above the high water mark – just as long as you don’t use deck chairs etc that belong to the owners?? There certainly seems to be confusion on the issue – perhaps Auntie can clarify for everyone/s benefit.




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        • Anonymous says:

          you know what he meant.




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        • Anonymous says:

          I am pretty sure that sand was put there by the ocean, hence it is all in the public part of the beach.




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      • Anonymous says:

        7:27 am, blame your most honorable West Casino monster for changing the law. Public property was from the waters edge to the vegetation, but that was all given away to the rich and famous. Stupid legislators with a one track way of thinking, so we are left short and still waiting on rectification and clarification.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Great story. I wonder what you are not telling? People do all sorts of disrespectful and illegal things every day on the beaches here and I have never seen anyone kicked off for it. Take your attitude, hatred, and disrespect and add in a loud voice and you have got what it takes to have the police come and remove you so everyone else can enjoy the beach. I suggest you try and respect those around you and not just yourself if chilling at the beach is your quest.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    Another day …. In LaLa land.




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  9. B. Smith says:

    commission obsession….what can it achieve.




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    • Anonymous says:

      To start with they can bring order to the Public beach which is becoming mini Jamaica.




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      • Anonymous says:

        The whole country….but especially Bodden Town….has become mini Jamaica, 7:49.




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        • What ever says:

          Excuse me? I don’t drive on Eastern Avenue anymore because it no longe feels like apart of my beautiful Isle Cayman. Bodden Town is a paradise compared to that mess.




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          • Anonymous says:

            Try living in BT. I am a BTer for the last 11 years. The poster is right in what he is saying – its fast becoming Little Jamaica.




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Yawn!




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