THE Southern Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) has made 21 recommendations for changes to the agreement between the government and Desert Star Holdings (DSH) for a multi million dollar project in Vieux Fort.
The STDC is a registered non-governmental, non-profit organization which co-ordinates the development and advancement of touristic activities in the south of St. Lucia. It is one of the organizations that has expressed reservations about some aspects of the plans for the project.
The STDC applauded what it said was the government’s invitation to engage in public consultation, and for concerned citizens and organizations to submit contributions to improving the DSH agreement.
It said: “Accordingly, as the premier organization overseeing the touristic and economic development of Vieux Fort and the South, and as a government funded organization, STDC is pleased to submit the following twenty-one recommendations for improving the DSH proposal as spelt out in the Framework and Supplementary Agreements signed by the Master Developer, Mr. Teo Ah Khing, and the Prime Minister, the Honourable Mr. Allen Chastanet.”
The STDC’s recommendations are as follows:
1. The developer must be responsible for the relocation of displaced Bruceville residents, and for presenting a credible reallocation plan with a compensation and land exchange component.
2. The developer, not government, must be responsible for the removal of any infrastructure in the way of the development.
3. The developer must be responsible for the decommissioning of the Vieux Fort landfill and the construction of a replacement landfill at an environmentally suited location. The selection of this new site must be accompanied by a full environmental impact assessment study (EIA).
4. Given its proximity to the Vieux Fort River, the abandoned pumice mine at Grace/La Retraite, earmarked for the landfill, is inadmissible for such use.
5. In general, social, economic, and environmental impact studies of all projects and all aspects of each project need to be conducted and the findings of these studies made public and the subject of public consultations before DCA approval.
6. The developer must allow St. Lucians to buy at least up to 20% of shares in the development.
7. The developer must assume the cost of establishing and operating an educational Training Fund for the equine industry, and the cost of establishing and maintaining an Equine Disease Free Zone to safeguard the health of imported thoroughbreds.
8. While the racecourse is under construction, the developer should provide scholarships to St. Lucians to become conversant in the Chinese/Mandarin language, and to acquire equine related skills. That’s to ensure that employment-wise St. Lucia benefits maximally from the enterprise.
9. The developer must compensate livestock owners in the designated area for having to cease operations because of the disease free zone, or agree to finance the adjustments farmers are required to make in complying with the disease free zone requirements.
10. The developer must assume responsibility for the full cost of purchased land, and must purchase the land at current market values.
11. In return for leased land, the developer must provide government equity in the development up to the market value of the land.
12. The development ought not to subsume the whole of Beausejour Farm. For the sake of green space, history, culture, and agriculture education, a portion of the farm should be retained by government.
13. Lands the developer has decided not to purchase initially, including the stadium, and lands surrounding that facility, and other lands adjacent to the race course development that the developer demands be reserved for future use, should in fact be made available to local investors to capitalize on the spinoffs from the development. Any university or educational complex that emerges in the area ought not be part of the developer’s enclave. The goal here is to limit as much as possible the sphere of influence of the developer, while providing local entrepreneurs maximum opportunity to benefit from the development.
14. The developer must provide an estimate of the number of jobs the development will create and what percent of its construction and operation labour force will comprise of St. Lucians, and also what would be the nature of these jobs.
15. The developer must deposit a certain percentage of CIP receipts, enterprise profits and horse race and casino betting receipts in a Vieux Fort Development Fund.
16. The government must break down the development into at least three different enterprises: (1) The horse race course and other equine activities; (2) the hotels and villas; and (3) the marina and casino, where each enterprise is assigned to a different developer, such that there would be no less than three different development agreements. No more than 5 years must be allocated for the completion of each enterprise. Therefore the only agreement to be entered into with DSH is that pertaining to equine related activities.
17. To preserve a significant stretch of Pointe Sable Beach for uninhibited local enjoyment, development along Pointe Sable Beach must be limited to the southern end of the beach, towards the foot of Moule-a-Chique, fronting Bruceville. Moreover, the hotel(s) must be situated beyond the vegetation that clothes the beach, west of the American left-over road, such that when on the beach one may not notice a hotel in the vicinity.
18. The Pointe Sable Recreation Park must be left untouched by this and all future developments. This must be absolute. If the developer must take over the Dames Field, then the developer must prepare a replacement ground.
19. If the developer is to use any part of Pointe Sable Beach, then together with the St. Lucia National Trust, STDC, and the Vieux Fort South Constituency Council the Developer must take action for the restoration and preservation of the beach.
20. Before embarking on any large scale development project in the Vieux Fort area, the government ought to develop or establish a comprehensive development and land use plan for Vieux Fort, with representatives of Vieux Fort integrally involved in the process, and ascertain how proposed developments would fit in the overall development plan.
21. Among the DSH-proposed development projects, the government ought to consider the marina development as a St. Lucian development project, where St. Lucians would own the majority of shares in the enterprise. To encourage or facilitate this process, government should consult with STDC, which for several years now has been advocating for such a development, reference Bob Hathaway’s Vieux Fort marina development proposal, put up the land and about one-third of the required capital, and entice St. Lucians to put up the balance of the required capital.