More development needed, says McLaughlin

| 03/02/2021 | 142 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin at the Chamber of Commerce Q&A

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has sent a message to environmental activists and conservationists after making it clear that if his team leads the next coalition government, it will seek to keep the pace of development going. Despite clear evidence that Grand Cayman’s coastline, especially along Seven Mile Beach, is already eroding and the sea level rise threat will only get worse, he said Cayman’s economy depends on inward investment.

“Cayman continues to need further development,” McLaughlin said at a roundtable Q&A session at a Chamber of Commerce meeting last week. The premier implied that shifting Cayman away from its increasing dependence on development and construction to sustain economic growth and jobs will not happen on his watch.

Even in the face of ever-growing public concern across the Cayman Islands about the negative impact that coastal over-development is now having on the islands, the premier spelled out a bleak future for nature.

The unsustainable level of development over the last three decades, but especially post Hurricane Ivan, has fuelled a population growth that has taken a toll on all resources, especially natural ones. Development has had a terrible effect on the environment, with the subsequent shoreline erosion and the islands’ endemic, indigenous and native bio-diversity under real threat, as land is cleared of natural habitat to make way for hotels, condos, luxury homes and rental units.

However, McLaughlin raised no concerns about the environmental issues that await the entire planet, and not just vulnerable low-lying islands like Cayman, much sooner than scientists have previously predicted.

Asked by the outgoing Chamber president Woody Foster if there was some kind of plan to control future development, McLaughlin implied that there was no plan, saying he wished he “had an answer to that” but, more development was coming, even if the government became more choosy about where and how.

“The difficulty with the economic model that we have… is that there are no convenient taps that you can turn on or turn off at will, because Cayman relies on inward investment for just about everything,” he said, as he pointed to the impact of the world economic cycles on unemployment. He said that when the world economy was in a slump and inward investment dried up, people were screaming at the government about jobs and simulating the economy.

“I think Cayman continues to need further development but we just need to be more choosy about the kind of development we want and where we want it,” he said.

The discussion drew to a close, however, when Foster pointed out that he was trying to find out what government’s plan was, as apposed to what appears to be “a free for all for whoever comes with a lot of money who can spend it wherever they want”.

Both McLaughlin and his planning minister, like their predecessors, have been guilty of misusing the term ‘sustainable development’, which is the concept that communities must meet their needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs, and it is clear that the current pace of development here is doing exactly that.

In his main address to the Chamber, he lauded the success of the construction sector here, saying that nearly 750 development projects were approved in 2019, with a combined total value of more than $890 million.

“That is a track record of success that I am proud of, that my government is proud of and that all of Cayman can be proud of,” he said, adding that he and the government had worked hard to get “more projects over the line” before the election.

“Our construction industry continues to do well and the flow of projects coming through the planning process is testament to ongoing investor confidence in these Islands and in this government,” McLaughlin added as he underscored the ongoing commitment to more of the same.


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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (142)

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  1. The watcher says:

    You think it is bad now, wait for the Chinese involvement … coming soon folks.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Where are more developments going to go? Must be on his forehead or elbow then!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    How much more developments does one small island need!? How much more people and cars do we need!? We are slowly turning into a mini south beach and as the years go by it won’t be no identity left smh…

  4. Anonymous says:

    How about putting in place roads, proper transportation, and tackling the rising issue of traffic in Cayman. How can we have all of this development and no one is thinking about how we will handle all of these ppl? Cars just keep on coming in, I know one family who has 5 cars for 3 ppl. we need to switch cayman from a driver’s society to cycling and walking one. I guess because traffic is only from the spots on the island that locals live it’s not a problem. Maybe we need development in Savannah for the RIch ppl then the traffic issue will be taken care of right away

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