A new tourism development project is on the cards for Oistins that would require the relocation of the police station, post office and former library and other buildings, according to Member of Parliament for Christ Church South Ralph Thorne.
However, he assured, residents would not be displaced.
Thorne disclosed on Thursday that the Government has been in discussions regarding the tourism development as part of a wider plan to uplift the fishing community and market.
While confirming that he was aware there had been negotiations with interested parties regarding the proposed development, the MP said he was unable to indicate exactly when the project would become a reality.
“The Government has felt for a long time that to have a police station there and to have a post office is not really to maximise the full potential of that real estate. And it is and remains Government’s proposal to transform that civil administration complex into a tourism development area – I don’t know precisely what – and to relocate the government offices to the other side of the street,” he said.
“Because if we are going to define Oistins as a town, it must maintain its civil administration buildings – police station, post office, etc. Those civil administration buildings will not disappear but the proposal is to place them on the other side of the street so that tourism development can take place.”
Speaking at a press conference to announce plans for the Oistins Bay Garden 27th Anniversary celebrations, Thorne assured that the development would not prevent locals from accessing the beach and would, in fact, have to respect the right to that access.
“I cannot think that that would become a problem,” the attorney-at-law said.
“The beaches of Barbados must remain accessible to the citizens and visitors to this country who must be able to move freely across the landscape, except respecting private property. But beaches have never been private property and I dare say they will never be private property in Barbados.”
Meanwhile, Thorne highlighted the traffic flow problems that occur in the Oistins Bay Garden on Friday nights and disclosed that he had suggested to the Oistins Bay Garden Committee and other stakeholders that the street be made a pedestrian area only on weekends.
He contended that a new traffic management plan was needed for the area.
“There is nothing to stop us from sitting down and discussing diverting the traffic, onto the hill, and leaving this area in front of this Bay Garden. One car driving by is equivalent to 20 persons walking by and shopping in a pedestrian mall,” Thorne said.
“So that, perhaps, on weekends what is now a street can become a cobblestone area to allow for internal expansion so that these shops and restaurants that you see here, would have larger spaces for their patrons. Let us think in terms of positive and progressive development when we think of Oistins.”
Pointing out that not many towns in the Caribbean can boast of being nestled on a beautiful beach, Thorne said the Oistins Bay Garden complex and other features of the popular south coast area were intended for the benefit of the people who live and ply their trade there – “the authentic people of Oistins, the authentic people of Christ Church”.
“And there has not been and never will there be any plan to relocate these persons along with tourism development that may take place,” the MP assured. “There must continue to be that harmonious relationship, there must continue to be that marriage between big business and small business and the market. These people must stay in their homes. For as long as we have something called government, which is about organising a society, the people who presently toil in these places must continue to be allowed to do so.”
Thorne further encouraged vendors in Oistins to treat the facilities as a business community and to conduct themselves professionally, noting that “Government is not doing them any favour and neither are they doing the Government any favour”. (AH)