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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]. 

I have never heard or read such a load of hogwash in all my life regarding Canouan. Well, I have frequently from the supporters of this family dynasty.

For hundreds if not thousands of years, there has been an animal track, a public footpath, a public bridleway, a public road, a public right of way on Canouan. Then along comes a foreigner who buys or leases the land through which the right of way runs. But that person, group or company acquiring the land does not and cannot cancel out the public right of way that in law must still continue. Even if the land under the right of way belongs to the new or old owner, that still does not cancel out the public right of way.

Any right that this developer is now claiming must have been purportedly given or granted to him/them by the government. So the people should be attacking the government’s wrongdoing and it obviously is wrongdoing.

I think the people should try and find and then approach a trust in the US who are steeped in both democratic and human rights to try and find funding to take this matter before a court, including as far as the House of Lords. Perhaps any Vincentians in the United States can investigate such organisations with all haste and report back.

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It’s not just the right which the government have swindled the people out of it’s their very right of being on the island of their birth, where, in some cases, their forbearers were enslaved. It’s a form of re-enslavement by the government of SVG of the Canouan islanders and the imposition of a foreign master on them.

Exactly the same thing applies whether it’s the roads, the paths, the beach or the sea.

For Ralph Gonsalves who is also Minister of Finance and National Security, to appeal to the islanders to be “mature” about the decisions that his government has taken” saying, “It is in the interest of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including in Canouan, for us to have these regulations” is a demonic disgrace.

Prime Minister Gonsalves told the islanders to be mature. What an insult! The islanders most certainly are being mature, they have had something taken from them by the government and given to a stranger, a foreigner, which cannot be right and is not right. They must never concede their rights and they should never negotiate the terms of their rights, their rights are long established and are actually compared with a God given right. Why on earth would they need to negotiate terms regarding something they already own?

What PM Gonsalves has done is to allow a private island to be created within a public island to the detriment of the original settlers.

In law, a member of the public has a right to cross another’s land if there is a public right of way over the land. The surface of the land over which a public right of way exists is termed a highway. A highway is not necessarily metalled (concreted, tarmaced or made up); an unmade track or even footpath may be as much a highway as a motorway.

The existence of a highway gives a member of the public the right to pass and re-pass along it. The manner in which he may do so (eg on foot, on horseback, by a horse-drawn or mechanically propelled vehicle) depends on the nature of the highway. A highway that falls into the category of a footpath entitles a member of the public to walk on it. A highway which falls into the category of a bridleway entitles a member of the public to ride a horse on it. A highway which falls into the category of a carriageway entitles a member of the public to walk, ride, or drive vehicles on it.

Such rights cannot be extinguished except by certain laws, but if they are extinguished the right of way should be replaced by another route.

At Common Law the principle is “once a highway, always a highway”. Thus, once a highway has come into existence, the fact that the public has not used the way (whether due to lack of need or because the owner has blocked the route or for any other reason) does not extinguish the public right of way, however long the period of non-usage.

The only way in which a public right of way can be extinguished is if the way is closed or diverted by an order made under a statutory provision. Such provision should not be because the owner wants to sell the land under or beside the track.

There is, therefore, a presumption at law that if the public right of way over a track is extinguished then an alternative track must be provided.

What the islanders should not do is come to a written agreement with the owner about the right to pass on the highway or use the beach or sea, because if they do that, such an agreement may actually supersede their public and common law rights. They should not accept a watered down version of their rights or have to ask permission to pass a road barrier or sit on a beach.

People you are being conned.

Peter Binose — blowing the bugle hard on this matter

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

3 replies on “Theft of the roads, beach and sea in Canouan”

  1. Jeannine James says:

    Someone has sold something that was not theirs to sell in the first place and are now looking to the people of Canouan to aid in the delivery. If the seller lets go of enough of the price he has either collected or intends to extort, he and the buyer might just get what they each want. Another case of taking advantage of the state and condition of the people and getting the odd “straight man” with the “voice of reason” to help out.

  2. I completely agree that they are being conned. It would serve citizens well to form an interest group and take this matter to court as soon as possible. The first thing they need is to get an injunction preventing any restriction to access to the beach. This government, or I should say, this political machine (because its not truly a government) does not deal with citizens in good faith. Canouan people would be foolish to sit down with them.

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