CIG to buy $10M of beach land for public use

| 09/07/2018 | 74 Comments
beach land

Governor’s Beach, Grand Cayman

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government is embarking on an island-wide spending spree to preserve beachfront property for public use in all of the districts on Grand Cayman as well as the Sister Islands. The minister for lands, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, revealed plans by her ministry to spend $10 million from the Environmental Protection Fund this year in an unprecedented effort to address long-standing complaints that the development of beachfront land is depriving ordinary local people and visitors from accessing and enjoying Cayman’s beautiful beaches and waterfront areas.

The project was revealed in Finance Committee last week, when the minister asked for the $10 million appropriation to her ministry from the EPF, pointing out that the goal was not just about preserving undeveloped beach for its conservation value but also to enable people to enjoy it. She described this as a one-time effort to address the balance between development and environment.

The minister said that while no one had been forced to sell their beachfront land, the upshot was that there was dwindling access. She said she was confident of public support for the project and that she did not believe any “true red-blooded Caymanian doesn’t enjoy the beach”.

O’Connor-Connolly explained that the aim was to identify and purchase what would become crown-owned beachfront land in every constituency and to give something back to the people, instead of the government being criticised for allowing development on the backs of Caymanians.

The minister did, however, encounter some pushback from the opposition benches for not revealing the property they intend to buy, which has already been identified by her ministry, and for not asking for suggestions from opposition MLAs until the last minute.

O’Connor-Connolly said that this was not a covert exercise but during the early stages she wanted to keep the proposed land parcels under wraps because of the risk of the prices becoming inflated once they were in the public domain. The minister emphasised the point that most ordinary Caymanians are not in a position to purchase beach property anymore and the $10 million was an effort to buy land for generations to come and ensure a piece of waterfront property in all constituencies.

Backing up his lands minister, Premier Alden McLaughlin pointed out how in the past, even when beachfront land was in private hands, no one ever seemed to object to people crossing it to get to the ocean for fishing or having a picnic. “But those days are already behind us,” he lamented.

McLaughlin expressed his support and explained why it was an important move for his government to make. “If we don’t, as members in this House, take the necessary steps to obtain and to preserve land that gives access to sea which Caymanians identify with, we will be correctly judged in dereliction of our duty to our people and subsequent generations particularly.”

He said that regardless of the size of the population, ordinary people should always have adequate access to the beach, and he warned that the social consequences would be grave if the lawmakers did not act. 

He said he knew there would be detractors who say should that government should not use public money for these purposes but he said he did not think there was a better purpose.

“I view this as a national imperative,” he said, adding that if more sites were identified after the $10 million was spent, the finance minister may be persuaded in the next budget cycle to find more cash.

See details on CIGTV below beginning at 1:02:50

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Category: Government Finance, Local News, Politics

Comments (74)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How sad that CIG has to spend millions to buy back what was rightfully owned by Cayman.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Remember McKeeva paid 3x the value of the land as you get onto NW Point Road. I can see where this is going. 10million for 2 maybe 3 pieces of property.

    Auditor General, can you pls audit this process and make your report public.

    The process by these politicians does not seem very thought out, and certainly there is no paper trail to show how the properties were selected. They do not seem to have consulted with the NCC on the use of the funds from the EPF either.

    There is too much shade in this process, not enough sunlight

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  3. Anonymous says:

    No doubt the land purchased will be owned by her relatives, like before…

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  4. Anonymous says:

    My final comment on this article: Finally a Govt has decided to do something positive about a long standing Caymanian grievance, and all I can see is 90% negative posts! Some things will never change.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This issue is not with CIGov doing something positive. The issue is how the process is executed. Based on their previous track record, scrutiny of the process is well deserved.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    So CIG think they can appease the people with a few measly parcels of land on the beach after going soft on enforcing beach access? Greedy, short sighted politicians selling us out again to big developers. Everyone else prepare to bend over the big stick up is coming. Sick of the lot of ’em, really sick.

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  6. HP Sauce says:

    You’re about 30 years too late mate.

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    • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

      To 8.03 am It is never too late to make a start on a grievious discontent that has been around for too long. Three cheers for the Govt. for taking a bite at the issue finally. I for one am extremely happy to see action and cannot be negative about it at all. IT’S A POSITIVE!!!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    This money shouldn’t have been requisitioned before (a) deciding what the target areas are, and (b) vetting and prioritizing those choices with the National Conservation Council. This is just shady backdoor misappropriation otherwise.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    So now that our Government has given away our Public Beach on West Bay Road to anyone to people operating illegal businesses, they now have to buy more beach property for the public to have access to the beach! Madness! Maybe they should buy back the Public Beach from the vendors.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Great how about Beach Bay which is being bulldozed every Sunday. Which locals used. Where turtles nested. Which govt sold out to foreign developers yet again!

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Cool, and bulldoze the Governor’s residence while your at it and build a more modest Gov residence somewhere inland. Gov doesn’t need to be on the beach.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Good idea which is going to be flawed and corrupt in application. Greed is rampant.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Let me guess, someone in government or their relatives purchased the property a short while ago. The government will now pay far above market value.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    They’re spending another 4 mil on Smith’s Cove for expats and a few cruise shippers to use as I NEVER see any Caymanians there. What a wasted of money!!

    This government is so out of touch with reality it’s scary!

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    • Anonymous says:

      I only thumbs down because of your bs comment about no caymanians there. They are there every weekend these days ignoring the No Loud Music signs and pissing off the neighbours. Bet they wish it really was just bus loads of geriatric cruisers…

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    • Anonymous says:

      Stop this from happening. It is in your power. They should leave purchased land AS IS, not to turn it into “parks”. Preserve, not develop, should be the motto.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    How much of this land will be purchased in the Brac?

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  15. SSM345 says:

    Since they have already been chosen and given the past spending habits of this crew, it would be interesting to see who owns these parcels of land and whether any surveys were carried out as to their value prior to them being earmarked for sale / purchase since as usual everything else has been done behind the PPM’s transparent doors to their boardroom.

    Find it difficult to understand why JuJu cant disclose these details since its our money she is going to use; normally people like to see where and to whom their money is going to.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    More theft from the Environmental Protection Fund. Which will continue as long as this government refuses to make sections 46 and 47 of the NCL effective. Will the Minister ensure that these beaches are made protected areas? I expect not.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    This is the same back-peddling govt that sold Point of Sand and other choice addresses to Dart, and sold-off $65mln (per a 2014 valuation) in assorted “surplus” Crown land, without FCO consent, for around $8-10mln last August, including coastal parcels. Watch as they use EPF cash to flip these undisclosed beachfront properties to their back-scratching buddies in a few years. The same regime determined to grind up our GT marine park, scrap their own NCL, and defer enactment of Standards in Publuc Life. I’m not a believer that this Cabinet has our interests at heart against the record of deviating past behavior.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    The phrases, ‘a day late and a dollar short,’ and, ‘shutting the stable door after the horses have bolted,’ come to mind here. This should have been 20 years ago.

    With all the good coastline developed (or in the process of being developed) I bet all that happens now is CIG buys up land that in reality has no commercial value at inflated prices from sellers who are only too glad to see the back off it.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    LOl, not getting anything on SMB for that pittance.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    LOL

  21. Anonymous says:

    This is a great idea! Now tell us what land we are getting.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Of course certain members are going to push back about not knowing which pieces are targeted to be bought. They want to make sure their interests get a cut of that $10m. In truth, NONE of them should be against this is they truly want to help Caymanians.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Can I take $10M of your money and buy some land and not tell you where the lad is or who it was purchased from ? Thought so!

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      • Anonymous says:

        They just did!!

      • Anonymous says:

        If I found out gov was coming my way to offer to buy my land, you think I as a honest man still wouldn’t inflate the price to line my pockets a lil better?

        Anyone would. C’mon now. Then unna would’ve complained they should’ve shut up and not disclose it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I listened to the debate- none of the members of the LA are against the purchase. They wanted to know where the land is located and rightly so. It would also be useful to know who presently owns the land and whether it was being equitable allocated. The push back by the Minister was surreal. Makes one wonder why the great hurry and lack of details. We are 20-30 years late on this purchase so a few more days would hardly make sny difference.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Thank you government for finally hearing our cry for public land. Now please get us somewhere to ride dirt bikes. Thanks

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Minister of Health needs to step down and let someone else run this ministry. He doesn’t know the difference between Cat Scan and ultra sound costs and why?

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  25. Anonymous says:

    I absolutely agree with the government to try and secure beach properties for Caymanians future. And if we’re willing to sell we might as well sell it to the government and still have prevelage to use it instead otherwise. But it one thing I would hate to see that in time to come another government comes in and decide to take it for grave yard. Why can’t the government buy some cliff land off the people and make grave yards instead. Some people own properties that they cannot not access less afford to develop. Just my thoughts and good luck Ms. O’Connor, it’s a worthy move you’re plannng. Best wishes. I am an East Ender.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    As the saying goes ” better late than never” however this government as well as governments before have already been judged for dereliction of duty when it comes to looking out for our people. Mr. Premier please also do something about Caymanians being left behind when it comes to getting jobs and the passing of laws and setting precedents that continually make it harder for our own people to live and thrive in our own homeland.. it seems that finally the Premier is seeing the light and understanding a few of the issues that are stumbling blocks in our paths. Time to rehaul the labour and immigration laws starting with forcing employers to have the courtesy to respond to applicants who apply for a job. We are waiting for months fora response and most times the response never comes. Apparently it is now ‘best practice” not to respond.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    If CIG & RCIPS would simply insist on opening the legal beach accesses that currently exist and have been blocked by NIMBY beachfront landowners, they would not need to spend EPF funds to buy accesses!

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  28. Anonymous says:

    Very charitable of Mr Dart to allow a few acres of beach land to be purchased by an entity he does not contro…. Nevermind.

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  29. borncaymanian says:

    Finally seems like they are starting to see the tip of the iceberg of what “development” has deprived Caymanians of…thankful for this cuz I sure can’t afford to buy any myself and I literally grew up on the beach.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    Why do the government have to buy public beach access today ? i think that something else is going on with that 10 million dollars .

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  31. Anonymous says:

    Pay particular attention to the constituencies and districts in which the majority of the money is spent
    Trusting the absolutely biased government ministry to fairly distribute this money to areas in opposition controlled districts and constituencies is ludicrous
    We can all see the beaches that get improvements and government spending

    Spotts Beach gets expanded parking ( Constituency of Austin Harris, member of the government )

    South Sound gets a boardwalk (split between two government constituencies)

    Smith Cove is now being renovated ( again a government controlled constituency)

    Meanwhile other areas of Cayman are untouched

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  32. Say it like it is says:

    Presumably the Brac will get priority with hot mix access roads and car parks included.

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  33. Colour me Purple. says:

    Are there really Caymanians whose blood is not red?.

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  34. Anonymous says:

    just hope the auditor general take a close look at this….

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  35. Anonymous says:

    Please please pull down the Berlin Wall and buy the beach / land either side of Frank Sound launching ramp. It was such a lovely spot once and frequented by families for picnics and days out for decades. Could be such a nice public spot.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I understand that the land is already designated but I hope the Brac beach is the one that Marianna bought from Bussy. Can gov buy her properties?

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  36. Anonymous says:

    Another brilliant CIG idea, buy beachfront land at the peak of the market. Where have you been the past 40 years?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, they have been buying beach land for years. Witness Coe Wood in Bodden Town. Bought the Clifton Hunter House property to expand it. Built cabanas, Demolished cabanas. Perfect place for lying around the rest-rooms with a beer though.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Oh boy. Auditor General, keep your eyes on this one.

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  38. Anonymous says:

    This is ridiculous. So the public purse has to spend so that visitors can have beach access, yet most of the hotels and rental properties on the beach are foreign owned. Are you taxing those properties enough to justify spending $10M? i hope you’re being strategic rather than reactionary.

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  39. Anonymous says:

    So if they buy at inflated prices off cronies like they did with little useless parcel across from WB dock this is not going to be a lot of land.

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  40. Anonymous says:

    Blow the entire budget on Point of Sand and make it a national treasure!!

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  41. Anonymous says:

    Government should have bought the top part of Barkus from Papagallos on up years ago and turned it into a national park, one of the prettiest places is Cayman. Now I doubt if they can afford it even if the owners would sell. My two cents.

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    • Anonymous says:

      And Dart won’t sell. Their vision of Cayman’s Barkers National Park (or so the sign said) is their hotel in the middle of the beach, and the ‘park’ back in the swamp. You know where they want you to go.

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  42. Anonymous says:

    Thank God.

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  43. Anonymous says:

    While I welcome this news, it does feel bitter-sweet.

    Significantly larger European countries (amongst others) have strict laws against any type of permanent construction on the coastline (even rivers) whatsoever, meanwhile Cayman allows big (and regular-sized) money to come along and destroy, dredge, and restrict our precious and severely limited shoreline.

    A developer’s desire to make his money-making establishment “nice” by way of shoreline features will never trump the importance of Cayman protecting its priceless natural resources.

    At an absolute minimum we need a 50 metre untouchable perimeter to which a moratorium is applied in respect to development.
    It can be legally implemented under national security or health and safety – which all do actually apply.

    Additionally, it needs to be made abundantly clear, that all waterline beach areas belong to the general public / Caymanians / expats / tourists / visitors / the world.

    A landowner has as much claim to the land our waters touch as he does to the winds blowing through his mango trees.

    – Whodatis

    *Every brick of development ALSO represents a brick of destruction of precisely what attracted said “development”.

    We need a comprehensive national development plan like yesterday – otherwise we will be very sorry in the very near future.

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