EDITORIAL – Getting up to speed on port decision

When issues unfold slowly, over time, there is always a danger that their importance will be muted in people’s minds.

After all, the human brain can only pay attention to so many things at once. After years without resolution, even important matters can be reduced to background noise.

We imagine the question of building a George Town cruise berthing facility would be one such issue for a lot of people on our islands. The idea has been discussed, on and off, for many years.

Readers may be well familiar with the core arguments for and against building the facility. Perhaps they have already made up their minds. Perhaps they’ve thrown up their hands, despairing of their ability to influence the outcome or of being able to determine the ‘right’ choice of action.

But now that the organisers of Cruise Port Referendum Cayman say they have collected and verified signatures necessary to trigger a people-led referendum on the port issue, it is time for all Cayman voters to refocus their attention. If the elections office is able to confirm the required number of signatures from eligible persons, the ball will start rolling to give voters a say in the port.

As the Compass reported this week, once the petitions are submitted and the signatures are verified, the elections office will submit the petition to Cabinet, which will determine if the issue is significant enough to warrant a people-led referendum – the first since the constitutional mechanism has been in place.

From there, the Legislative Assembly would finalise the wording of the question to put to voters, and the date of the referendum. After that, it is the people’s decision.

With an issue of this magnitude, they must ensure it is an informed one.

As we have written, the cruise dock would be the single largest and most influential public works project in our islands’ history. It would shape our tourism product, our larger economy, our infrastructure, and day-to-day realities for decades to come. It is a serious long-term commitment.

At the same time, opting not to build a cruise berthing facility in George Town could have similarly dramatic impacts.

This editorial board has not taken ‘sides’ on this issue; rather, it has offered conditional support for exploring the idea, provided a berthing facility could be built quickly to specifications that appear to be and are of the highest quality, and if the project falls within a rational financing scheme.

More to the point, the Compass newsroom has committed to thoroughly covering the discussion, concerns and arguments for the project so as to help our readers develop their own enlightened views.

These news articles and persuasive columns for and against the proposed project all are available on our website: www.caymancompass.com. Our reporters will continue to report on developments as they occur.

With the very real possibility of the question coming to referendum, the time has officially come for readers to redirect their attention to these discussions and to educate themselves about the issues at hand.