Aster won’t make full pay back for mangrove loss

| 13/05/2021 | 83 Comments
Location of proposed Aster Cayman Medcity

(CNS): Gene Thompson, who is leading the development team seeking approval for a planned area development for another medical tourism project, told the Central Planning Authority on Wednesday that there will not be a like-for-like replacement for more than 22 acres of mangrove wetland that will be lost if the project goes ahead. Thompson said that the owners cannot give up such a large amount of land from the near 40-acre site where they plan to build a hospital, medical college, assisted living facility and related retail, commercial, office and residential units. Instead, they will mitigate through energy saving measures, he said.

Appearing at the CPA meeting on behalf of Aster Caribbean Holdings Ltd, Thompson outlined the project and addressed some of the issues raised in the Department of Environment’s submissions on behalf of the National Conservation Council regarding the PAD application. Several objectors also presented their concerns to the board for consideration.

During the course of addressing the DoE’s submissions, in particular the loss of mangrove habitat and the lack of any plan to address this significant loss, Thompson said there would be no direct replacement. Instead, as outlined in a later submission sent to planning and added as an appendix to the agenda, they intend to use native landscaping and green technologies.

Thompson said this would include open public spaces, minimising asphalt, recycling waste-water, energy efficiency measures and solar technology that would cut power use, and introducing drones to deliver goods to the hospital instead of trucks.

While this will lower the carbon footprint the hospital will have, it will not compensate for the mangrove habitat’s ability to store carbon and protect against flooding, as pointed out by the objectors.

The hearing was to consider the PAD itself in broad terms and not any of the specific buildings associated with the wider project. However, the CPA can grant permission for land clearing, which places these mangroves under imminent threat, as they could be removed in matter of weeks, long before any development begins.

The CPA dismissed the absence of in-depth submissions on the management of medical waste, even though in their short contribution the Department of Environmental Health had recommended that the board withhold approval until such details were outlined.

The project is also now the subject of a judicial review brought by the Doctors Hospital. But as Thompson denied emphatically that this meant there was any question over the 25-year contract signed with government for this project, the CPA did not consider the implications of this legal challenge and closed down submissions by the objectors, as they outlined their broader objections to the development and the clear risk that this could be approved by CPA only to be denied in the courts.

Check back to CNS for more on the Doctors Hospital judicial review.

See the application by Aster in the CPA agenda, posted in the CNS Library.


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Category: development, Local News

Comments (83)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    WOW drama queen.

    Please explain how we are all going to die unless we have 4th hospital to add to the existing 3 on a 76 square mile island with 65K people.

    As just one example, Niagara Falls in Canada covers a larger area and serves a higher population with only ONE general hospital – nowhere near the level of either of our 3.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hope destiny finds a way of forcing you to live in Niagara Falls. The reason you are here is because Niagara Falls, its healthcare and taxes are failed experiment. Don’t admire the dysfunctional mess in a place nobody wants to live and hold it out as some cockeyed beacon of hope. Others try to build better here. With today’s approval, we start. (Never thought I’d live to see the day when people complain there is too much hospital care)

      • Anonymous says:

        Of course you would focus on the named hospital instead of the statistics of just one example. Totally went over your head. PS I’m here because I’m Caymanian and been here my entire almost 50 year old life. I wont be forced to move to Canada or anywhere else as I have no rights to unlike those of you who benefit from Cayman short term but have zero regard for the destruction left behind when you leave.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because there hospital is to treat patients where the new ones here are just for greedy people purposes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Swampland did not stop the flooding that happened all over Grand Cayman which was mostly the swamp during Ivan. It passed all beaches first and only in the North Sound did it cross swampland on the coast. The swampland that IS not developed is further than 200 feet inland.
    This protection of Swampland is a hoax, if it pertains to Hurricanes. What we need for coming higher levels of sea heights is sea walls. That is what they are doing as we speak in Miami and will all be built in New York City which is smaller than Grand Cayman. Neither NYC or Miami is going to plant any Mangrove trees. As I have said in another letter, Grand Cayman has proved that sea walls work. As you drive from 7 mile beach you will see walls all the way to Hogsty Bay which also has a wall. We have refused to see the majority of the youth will not be owning any land, see how much land is worth? You now can’t buy anymore dry land you can’t afford it. BUT swampland is still cheap apron. 14,000 acres left. So keep trying to stop development you’re only stopping your own children.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If we did not have this American type private health insurance system in Cayman, whose main function is NOT providing health care, especially affordable health care, but is designed to make money for owners/shareholders, none of these private medical projects would be trying to set themselves up here. None.

    • Anonymous says:

      The health care here is 100X better than what we get in Canada or the USA and I have paid for both, with tax dollars and after tax dollars. The waits are shorter here, the system is less indebted here and for all its shortcomings the process and care is far batter than what we get in Los Angeles (Cedars Sinai, I’ve been there) in Toronto or Vancouver. (been to both). Only New York is better because there is a culture of multiple hospitals competing with each other to do better. That is what we are fostering here with these new clinics. If we can keep the hospital expansions up competition will bring us the best health care in the World.

      • Anonymous says:

        Fair points except tgat we already have 3 hospitals and multiple clinics for a population of 85,000 people. Now compare this to elsewhere and you get a different picture.
        What is being offered is healthcare with lowered liability for any medical mistakes.

        • anonymous says:

          One of our three hospitals will need to close to expand at some point marginalizing care for a growing population. The second hospital “doctor’s” is owned by a local family without the resources or gumption to reinvest in improving the facility (and it is far too small to pick up slack). The third hospital is all the way in east end. Enjoy the 40 minute ambulance ride after your next heart-attack or car accident. You might have time for a movie and a nap

          • Anonymous says:

            Doctors isn’t owned by Tomlinson anymore as far as I am aware fyi. Part of the reason for the name change.

      • Anonymous says:

        And it’s for people like you, from overseas, that this hospital is being built for – NOT the local residents.

        The concessions
        being given to develop this service for YOU is de-funding the Cayman peoples revenue through duties and work permit fees, requiring infrastructure that will be paid from OUR public purse and destroying what little is left of the wetlands and mangroves in this area of the island. All for the majority profit by a select few who clearly dont give a s#!+ about Cayman, just their pockets.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your last sentence, you talking about the Thompson family by any chance?!

          • Anonymous says:

            By select few, I’m referring to a number of people/families. We all know who they are.

        • Anonymous says:

          If it’s here it’s Caymanian. Every stick that gets built on Cayman soil, in urea to the benefit of the Caymanian people

    • Anonymous says:

      6:22 pray tell what Medical Tourism has to do with local health care providers. This facility obviously is not being purpose for the Cayman market which is already saturated. Rather, it is meant to bring /attract foreign persons with an alternative off shore health facility, presumably with a high caliber of service and potentially better rates than on shore. Of course the services will be available to Caymanians and Reaidents as well

      • Anon says:

        Alternative health care facility? To what? And has Heath City Cayman Islands attracted foreign persons to speak of? Cayman medical tourism is a misnomer. Wellness or spa tourism is much more likely to be a starter! Simple test: if you had a serious illness would you prefer to be close to home or far from home? Thought so….

  4. Michel says:

    Training is needed for Caymanians to be able to work in hopitals. Let’s get a training going for the hotel industry etc.also and private sector and Govt should get involved. Use the schools at night if you need to for classes. Invest in our people. I could name so many professions that when we open Caymanians would be available.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry. Unless it has Director, Assistant Deputy Director, CEO, Deputy Assistant CEO, Senior supervisor, Deputy Senior supervisor, Field Marshall, Wing Commander, Admiral of the fleet, Lord of all things included then they aren’t really interested.

  5. Anonymous says:

    CPA needs to ask: what will this next ETH eyesore property complex be used for 5 years after construction (assuming it even gets built), when this project goes bust like Shetty hospital? Let’s try not to pour any more extra stupid sauce on the superficially dumb ideas. By way of so many previous unfulfilled learning experiences, we need to think ahead, looking at the lifetime project budgets, and decommissioning plans of all broken development promises. Make developers post a remediation bond for when it fails, refundable in 10 years if it proves to be a viable contributor to GDP. Put that on all projects budgeted over $10mln to discourage get-rich-quick schemes and investment frauds. Friendly reminder that we are trying to get off blacklists, and stay off them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not their remit.

    • Anonymous says:

      When this project goes bust like Shetty hospital? What island are you living in to make such a statement? Have you been to Shetty’s Health City lately? Its teeming with activity and people actively being treated… it is highly regarded as the #1 choice for healthcare in GCM.
      Your assertion that Shetty’s hospital is going bust is utter nonsense and the same kind of misinformation that now the norm.

      • slacker says:

        The only reason it is not bust, is that they totally disregarded the original agreement. Even taking into account Covid, how many of the imaginary medical tourists did they serve beforehand? None.

      • Anon says:

        Hmmm, their safety record is not as gleaming as it could or should be…..wouldn’t you want to have total trust and confidence in your health service provider? Emergency care at the George Town Hospital on the other hand is really quite excellent and reliable. If anyone wants #1 healthcare they only need to go to a private hospital in Florida. People from all over the world flock to see experts there. We are so lucky its in our neighbourhood. Let’s take advantage of access to the best health humanly possible.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good thing we have an Independent Minister for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency.

    “Thompson said this would include open public spaces, minimising asphalt, recycling waste-water, energy efficiency measures and solar technology that would cut power use, and introducing drones to deliver goods to the hospital instead of trucks.”

    I hope they offer the hospital recycled waste-water in bottled form, as I can see that as a popular product. Especially if they can deliver it to my house by drone.

    • Anon says:

      Drones interfere with air traffic space. Not a good idea! Same reason they are not implemented elsewhere for such reasons!

  7. KY1 says:

    Cayman has one of the highest cancer rates in the world which is contributed to by chemicals used to kill mosquitoes. These mosquitoes incubate in mangrove swamps. This is a hospital which saves lives (including Caymanian lives) and you all want to stop it!?! It doesn’t matter that it is being developed for medical tourism Caymanians still benefit. Go to health city on any given day and notice how many Caymanians are there getting lifesaving treatment. We must protect Mangroves in dedicated protection areas but not on land designated for responsible development and in particular land being used to build a Hospital!! Are you mad?

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask yourself why cayman is so invested in hospitals and why we continue to breath toxic air from the dump & insecticides, or ingest toxic water. Both regulated by government. Seems they would rather a bandaid then a solution.

    • Anonymous says:

      We test the water at a lab in Europe and one in the states each 2-3 years and on the Seven Mile West Bay corridor it is cleaner than Evian. It is just shy of a few minerals which is why it takes so long to get the soap off when you wash your hands. The MRCU spraying is too intermittent to be a major culprit relating to cancer. A bit of research will show the cancer incidence here relates to the smoke stacks from CUC which belch out highly carcinogenic unfiltered Diesel exhaust. It’s untreated and blows across south and central Georgetown depending on prevailing winds. Stay north or East of those and drink green tea to avoid cancer. Hopefully government will force CUC to begin filtering their exhaust. it’s a cheap particle filter that could save lives and improve health.

      • REAL Representation says:

        Appreciated the response above. Invest in Airly pollution monitors – it will be well worth the $1200 you spend on it with free replacement up to three years later. They are actually supposed to last for 5 years. Then we will really know whats in the air where! I think we might be very surprised. They will be on the island soon.

        Real time monitoring (plus notifications & forecasting) could also be a game changer in terms of adoption of more positive behaviors and cleaner lifestyle businesses….and even a child can interpret it. Airly green means the air is safe, yellow etc. ‘no’ its not.

        To your point, diesel for electricity will produce PM2.5 – a most dangerous sized particulate matter to the human body! Burning trash is another PM2.5 culprit. Seems like we need clean air and clean water.

    • Anon says:

      1st point – so isn’t the answer to do something about the use (and importation) of chemicals and use of alternates? One very good answer to mosquitoes is eradication using traps.

      Also you’ve noted that Caymanians are having to go to Health City, did you ever see many tourists there???? Medical tourism is a misnomer. It hasn’t happened despite millions and millions of dollars……

      Final point – land with mangroves which is not in a mangrove forest reserve could easily retain mangroves and more than a ‘token’ amount. The DoE minimum is exactly that – a minimum. Surely environmentally conscious developers can be better?

  8. Bertie : B says:

    Not only does Cayman Not need another hospital , fact is Caymanians wont be welcome in it anyhow . This complex will be for the rich and infamous only .Also removing mangroves leaves damage from hurricanes more likely .

    • Anonymous says:

      The CPA basically outright ignored the requirements by Dept of Environment and National Conservation Council to provide socio economic and needs assessments for a 5th hospital on the premise that this development was already signed off by the previous PPM government to promote Medical TOURISM. It is not being built for Caymanians.

  9. Anonymous says:

    They could donate money to the NT so they can buy Central Mangrove Wetland if they were doing more than just greenwashing.

    • Anonymous says:

      they need to starve the National Trust to put it out of business until it changes its charter to allow lands to be traded. Right now land goes in and the organization is powerless to trade land, sell land or grant rights of way. It’s a rigid model that locks other land and causes the rest to be overdeveloped. Ban the National Trust and avoid it like the plague

    • Anon says:

      No need to “buy” central mangrove wetland. It is “un-developable” if its National interest habitat.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Gene has absolutely no shame. He’s been blessed with a second chance and learnt nothing

    • Anonymous says:

      There are about five people on this island who, if I shook their hand, I’d want to immediately go wash my hands. Gene is one of those people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good for you Gene, nothing would ever get done in this country if we are held hostage to tree huggers silly demands .
      Is it not worth giving up some mosquito breeding swamp land to get world class medical facilities in it’s place ?

      • Tree hugger says:

        What do you have against trees anyway…Trees were made for our benefit, not the other way round. They create habitats for nature or do you have something against nature and birds too?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes Gene is also in charge of keeping those poor dolphins captive in extremely small pools in West Bay. What does that say about him? The greatest danger to our future is Apathy.

      • Anonymous says:

        So you don’t want advances in medical care to our people because you don’t like Gene…?
        This is about a benefit to all of us, not one of us.

        • Anon. says:

          There must be a level playing field – NO duty concessions….
          There is nothing stopping Caymanians accessing medical care on or off the island apart from restrictive anti-democratic insurance policies perhaps.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s an absolutely absurd statement. Gene is a good man trying to build a great hospital to help his Country. He’s the only Caymanian to successfully build one in the last 30 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      In 2014 He partnered with Dr. Shetty to develop Health City which was a welcomed project. They’ve saved a lot of lives overseas and locally since their inception. Many would agree that the Cayman Islands presently, is adequately served health care-wise with CTMH, Health City, GT Hospital, and the various clinics located throughout the island. He has since ended his relationship with Dr. Shetty and in retaliation decided to bring another Indian medical group to open Aster on the opposite end of the island. Pressure him to explain what took place between him and the Health City group before blindly supporting this new venture which is not justified at this time.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I sure hope it was approved. This project is really good for the Country and could save and improve a lot of lives in the years ahead. It provides quality jobs. It provides public safety – if this type of project gets denied over a swamp it would be a travesty where everyone loses

    • Anonymous says:

      Quality jobs for work permit holders or Caymanians?

      Name one medical facility here that has not been overrun with work permit holders. I’ll wait.

      • Anonymous says:

        12:47 When will you People understand the word “CAYMANIAN” is not a Qualification, or Certification!
        ps That is why we are overrun with permit holders not
        cheap Labour.

      • Anonymous says:

        What a silly comment, we only bring work permits because the caymanians are not capable of doing the jobs

        • Anonymous says:

          That is an unadulterated lie. There are countless other reasons and you know it. The amount of fraud and falsehood in the employment arena in Cayman is staggering.

        • Anonymous says:

          It doesn’t take a lot of ability to clean a toilet, mop floors or empty the trash. We bring in work permit holders because the only Caymanians who will even consider those jobs are ex-prisoners.

      • Anonymous says:

        Pay for your healthcare like a work permit holder and you’ll get better care like one. You get what you pay for and when you wait for a free handout, you get what you deserve.

      • Anon. says:

        We sure as heck don’t need any mass projects just now with infrastructure overloaded as is. Also the more SMB corridor developers the sooner the stress-free road journeys between WB and GT will come to an end.

    • Anonymous says:

      What benefits does it bring in addition to our current “medical tourism” product (which lets face it is a total flop)?

    • Anonymous says:

      Easy for you to say because they’re not putting a 100ft tall building in your back yard and running emergency vehicles all day long behind your dingle family home. But nobody here cares about anything until it directly affects them.

      • Anonymous says:

        So there you have it. A westbayer who doesn’t want to hear a siren. NIMBY would rather the Country die than share the burden. Ufff

        • Anonymous says:

          Dear actual Nimby…”a” siren? Really? This application was to change the zoning of 40 acres of mangrove wetlands in a low density residential zoned area in order to develop institutional, resident transient and commercial structures right next to peoples homes.

          In any other country, you could not just change the zoning so easily and the applicant was required to PROVE that the development did not have negative impacts on surrounding landowners such as continuous NOISE, such as medical waste emissions polluting the air, such as infringing on the privacy of homeowners by putting the equivalent of a 8 storey building, lit 24/7 in their back yard.

          Your sad and simple deduction is ignorant at best. “A siren” LOL

    • Swamp is nature says:

      What would really improve a lot of lives is cleaner air, cleaner water and cleaner land. This means leaving more nature in tact and getting to the root of declining health not always trying to salvage whats left.

  12. Anonymous says:

    STOP the destruction of the environment!

    • Anonymous says:

      Knock down your house, plant some mangroves and donate the property to the National Trust.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nobody stops the Thompsons from doing what they want to do. Nobody.

      • anonymous says:

        Not true. Check out what Chris Johnson has been trying to do for over five years. That Purple Piss Pot on North Church Street breached setbacks on all sides. You know, the one that Kel designated a private beach. The Appeals Tribunal sent the case back to the CPA two months ago and look what happened. NOTHING.
        Thanks Chris for trying.

        • Anonymous says:

          Like I said, nobody – not even Chris Johnson – stops the Thompsons from doing whatever they want to do.

  13. Anonymous says:

    What action did the CPA take on the application? Did they approve it, deny it, or adjourn? The article did not say.

    CNS: We don’t yet know what the CPA decided. As soon as we do, we’ll update the article.

    • Anonymous says:

      We know though.

      • Anonymous says:

        closing submission “ and our project will result in $Xm of purchases from local hardware stores and construction companies. CPA: why didn’t you just say that at the outset instead of that BS about carbon footprint – approved”

        • Anonymous says:

          When is the new government going to replace the chairman and most of the members of the CPA for conflict of interest reasons identified by several Auditor Generals over the last 20 years?

    • Anonymous says:

      CPA will approve as the good old boy’s network shall prevail!

  14. Anonymous says:

    We don’t need another hospital

    • Anonymous says:

      We just need to know the way home.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not for us. Medical Tourism is to attract overseas patients whose costs are too high in their own country. The applicant said its focused on about 85% overseas patients,just like Shetty.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Not needed

    • Anonymous says:

      But look at all the building material sales it will generate!

      • Anon. says:

        These materials are very overpriced at the moment for a myriad of reasons due to international supply and demand issues. Better to build anything when the prices/ costs settle back down. The hikes have been steep and they are unaffordable but for pension withdrawals and other incentives.

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