Most MLAs not ready to take sides

To view the full special report from the Cayman Compass on the cruise dock debate, visit the Compass Data Desk.

The members of the Legislative Assembly are not yet revealing where they stand on the issue of whether a cruise berthing facility should be built in George Town Harbour.

“The Cabinet will make a decision, my comment will be part of the Cabinet’s decisions,” said Finance and Economic Development Minister and George Town MLA Marco Archer. “Giving a comment at this time would be premature.”

Financial Services, Commerce and Environment Minister and Bodden Town MLA Wayne Panton said there is a process to go through, including a period of public consultation, and that he has a “commitment to that process” and to ensuring that everyone has their say on this issue.”

“I’ve kept an open mind about it,” Mr. Panton said.

Joey Hew, George Town MLA and tourism councilor, said he is also committed to the process of public consultation. “The Ministry of Tourism, on behalf of the government, is still in the process of gathering relevant data regarding the berthing facility,” Mr. Hew said. “Until that process is concluded and all of the information has been passed on to Cabinet for consideration, it would be premature to comment without having the benefit of all of the facts.”

Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush said his position has not changed from statements he made in June regarding the cruise berthing piers.

In a Finance Committee meeting of the Legislative Assembly last month, Mr. Bush said he could not support the proposed project in its current version due to the extent of the damage outlined in the environmental impact assessment report, and he suggested building the jetty at the Cayman Turtle Farm, redeveloping Spotts Dock and enhancing the tender fleet as an interim alternative.

“I do believe that cruise piers can be built in George Town that will suffice for the needs of our people who are in the business and the growing demands of the cruise ship companies, without the tremendous destruction that is outlined in the study,” he said at the time.

He told the Compass this week: “I do nevertheless have some concerns about any contract which may be granted,” Mr. Bush said. “I will speak to those later.”

Winston Connolly, George Town MLA and councilor to the minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs, said that it would be “premature to come to a conclusion” while “other proposals” are now being reviewed by the Ministry of Tourism.

“Whatever proposal I decide on has to be a complete proposal which accounts for cargo expansion as well,” Mr. Connolly said. “My main concerns are mitigating the damage to the environment and coming up with a solution which allows for future growth of the country and benefits the country and all of the residents here.”

All of Cayman’s MLAs were contacted, but the remainder did not respond to requests for comment. However, Minister of Tourism and Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell provided the issue outline on page 2 of this special report.

To view the full special report from the Cayman Compass on the cruise dock debate, visit the Compass Data Desk. 

A cruise ship in George Town Harbour.
A cruise ship in George Town Harbour. – Photo: Stephen Clarke