Cayman Brac may be removed physically from the impact of the cruise berthing and cargo project but residents there are paying attention to developments with the facility. In the supermarkets, in the bars and round the dominoes tables, the port is as hot a topic for Brackers as it is for those on Grand Cayman.
While some say they want the project to get the green light and feel it will have a positive economic effect, others believe the environmental cost of the $200 million facility is too high to pay.
The constituencies of Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac East carry voting blocks of 573 and 473 electors, respectively. While those figures may be low compared to a single constituency on Grand Cayman, they could still be influential.
The way the referendum is structured, more than half of the total electorate in the Cayman Islands must vote no to the project for the result to be binding on government. That means those who don’t show up at the polls will effectively be counted in the pro-port column.
Fewer than 10% of Cayman Brackers signed the petition for the referendum, raising the concern that indifference to the issue from a population more than 80 miles away, could skew the vote. However, Brackers who spoke to the Compass said they were very much engaged and interested in the debate.
For Melvern Brown getting the project off the ground is imperative as he said he wants to see the islands progress.
“It will be good for the Cayman Islands far as I can see. ‘Cause if they don’t do that after a while cruise ship will probably stop coming. I think that will be a good thing I believe and so many people will get work,” Brown said.
He said he intends to vote when the referendum is held so his voice can be heard.
“I will be voting for it [in] the referendum, if they [other voters] want to they should stand up for it,” Brown added.
However, the feeling was not the same for Evelyn (she requested her full name not be used).
She said the funding and attention given to the project would be better spent on programmes for young people and creating more development for Cayman Brac.
“They don’t just have to focus on Grand Cayman itself. That’s a problem with here. A lot of times we over here in Cayman Brac don’t have the opportunities that Grand Cayman has because we don’t have the infrastructure here,” she said. “So why is it that government can’t build the things that they want to have over there and bring some of that over to us so we can develop our stuff that we can become just as good as Grand Cayman?”
She contended that the environmental impact of the project will have lasting effects and the country cannot accommodate the projected large volume of cruise visitors.
“We are known for our dive sites, our coral, sea life so why are we going to destroy that just because in hopes to accommodate more people coming in? Even with the cruise ships that do come in George Town is ram-packed,” she added.
Virginia McLaughlin does not see it that way. For her the large issue is protecting Cayman from economic failure and giving employment opportunities to those who need it.
She said when she returned from the US with her son it was a challenge to find employment.
“Some people are fighting against it. They shouldn’t fight against it, let it happen and if it happens be happy with it. I am happy for it because I will vote for it,” she said.