Motion on cruise berth referendum defeated

Cruise ships dock at George Town harbor. The government plans to build a pier which would allow passengers to come to shore without using tender boats. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

A private member’s motion calling for a referendum on the controversial cruise berthing project was voted down by government members after a lengthy debate in the Legislative Assembly.

Opposition leader Ezzard Miller brought the motion calling for the public to be given the chance to decide the fate of the port project.

He said the issue had been mired in controversy on all sides for decades and a referendum was the best way to resolve it.

The motion failed by 11 votes to 6. It was supported by all members of the official opposition and independent member Kenny Bryan and opposed by all members on the government benches, with the exception of West Bay legislator Bernie Bush who was not present when the vote was called around 1 a.m. on Friday.

Mr. Miller spoke out against cruise berthing in his speech on the motion, saying it was a solution to a problem that did not exist. He said cruise tourism had grown 20 percent in the last five years and there was no evidence that a dock was necessary.

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, in a lengthy rebuttal, said thousands of Caymanian families depended on the cruise industry for their livelihoods. Though recent cruise arrival figures have been good, he said, the long-term trend of the industry towards mega ships that would not use tenders meant Cayman had to build piers to stay in the game.

For full details of the debate, see Monday’s Cayman Compass.