[Updated] The Government said it cannot support the Corporation of Hamilton’s Waterfront Development Project at this current time due to lack of information, Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy said today [Jan 25].
Minister Fahy was expressing his concern regarding an upcoming announcement planned by the Corporation of Hamilton [COH] to discuss its proposed waterfront project.
The COH is expected to make an announcement about the waterfront project this coming Monday [Jan 28].
As the Minister responsible for Municipalities he warned that it would be “highly premature” to make any pronouncements about such a significant project when the Government – who is expected to be a major partner in the project – hasn’t been “properly or suitably briefed about the development initiative.”
Minister Fahy said, “The Premier and I met with the COH for the first time on Friday, January 18, and we were only advised at that time that they were making a public announcement on January 28, regarding this project.
“We asked the COH not to move forward at this time for two specific reasons. One, we have absolutely no knowledge of the project in terms of its scope or design and two, we have not been provided any opportunity to conduct any due diligence with respect to the proposed financiers or developers.”
Minister Fahy noted that as recently as Wednesday Jan 23, he met once again with Hamilton Mayor Graham Outerbridge and some of his team and made fresh requests for the COH to suspend their proceedings, in the interest of establishing a proper partnership and getting a full briefing of the proposals.
However, he said the COH denied the request citing that due to financial obligations related to the January 28 announcement they had no choice but to proceed with their original plans.
Minister Fahy said, “The Government has been put in a terribly precarious position and it’s very regrettable that we cannot come to a reasoned agreement on this matter.
“For these reasons, the Government must advise the public that it cannot support the Corporation of Hamilton’s Waterfront Development Project at this current time. That’s not to say that there will not be support in the future, however the Government has no information and thus we cannot in principle support this project.
“Like all major projects Government must give consent in respect of planning, immigration and labour issues as well as potentially grant duty concessions and approvals for mortgages by foreign entities over Bermuda land. In the absence of any information the Government has today advised the Corporation that such consents will not happen.
“It is the Government’s hope that information required to consider the development will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead, as we do agree that the impact of the project is significant to our economy and to the reputation of Bermuda in the international marketplace.
“We do not wish to been seen as obstructive – however a project as important to Bermuda’s future must be in partnership with the Government. We again urge the COH to hold on their announcement pending a Government review,” concluded Minister Fahy.
Update 4.44pm: Mayor Graeme Outerbridge said: “We understand the Minister’s position and have received communication from his office on this matter. However the process the City began last summer and the commitments we have made to our partners requires that we move forward as planned.
“Our planning began before the general election was called and the subsequent change in government. We respect Minister’s Fahy’s request and look forward to partnering with him and the Bermuda government on this important Hamilton initiative.
“Given our contractual obligations, the meeting with stakeholders on Monday at 12noon, in the Earl Cameron Theatre, will take place. We have also called a press conference for 3:00pm on Monday during which we will share with the local media the details we will provide during the 12noon meeting.
“I want to state clearly, and this will be reiterated on Monday during our meeting, no plans have been drawn up. Our process going forward will encourage and support government and the general public’s full participation,” continued the Mayor.
“The meeting on Monday is an information session which will provide the attendees with details of our process and where we are to date.
“We look forward to meeting with Minister Fahy in the near future to establish a formal working relationship on this important Hamilton project.”