Government is holding a public meeting about the proposed cruise berthing project on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Family Life Centre in George Town.
The meeting will feature Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, and is advertised as a forum that will provide the public with facts about the potential development.
The cruise pier project has been a divisive issue in Cayman.
Campaigners launched a drive to collect signatures to trigger a public referendum on the project. Leaders of the Cruise Port Referendum Cayman Campaign said last week they are around halfway toward their goal of collecting the 5,288 signatures necessary to compel government to call a people’s referendum on the project. Supporters of the referendum began collecting signatures on Sept. 1.
Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller also brought a private members’ motion to the Legislative Assembly earlier this month calling for a referendum. The motion failed by 11 votes to 6 after a lengthy debate. 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.
Meanwhile, the momentum of the campaign appears to have reinvigorated supporters of the cruise ship dock proposal.
The advocacy group Cayman’s Port, Cayman’s Future has restarted its social media campaign in support of the project. Government is running its own advertising campaign advocating for the cruise ship port.
Wednesday’s meeting will be the latest in a series of public forums that have been held on the project since at least 2009.
The development was first seriously discussed by government in 2003.
In a meeting hosted by the Department of Environment on Jan. 13, 2009, that attracted about 150 people, many concerns – ranging from environmental marine damage to the impact on stay-over tourism – were expressed.
There was also an August 2015 public consultation, when nearly 350 of the 473 comments received contained objections, arguing that the project would harm coral reefs and historic shipwrecks. Retailers mostly supported the project in that consultation, with opposition coming mainly from residents, visitors and dive companies.