Godhal Beach in Cnaouan, like all beaches in SVG is poblic. The only challenge is getting there. (IWN photo)

By Kenton X. Chance

A senior government official says that residents of Canouan are not giving up their rights if they compromise on the beach access issue, but a community activist on the southern Grenadine island is maintaining that access by land is “a must”.

All beaches in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are public and residents of Canouan are pushing for access by land to beaches in the north of the island, two-thirds of which were leased to investors almost three decades ago.

Luxury resorts are located in that “developed” area in the north and the “village” is located to the south, where a US$100 million marina is under construction.

(Scroll for video)

Investors confident Canouan marina will not affect local communities

The management of the resort say that the only land access to the beaches in the north is through their property.

They say that if they are informed, they would provide a golf cart or bus to transport persons to and from the entrance of the resort to the beach.

During a government-arranged media tour of tourism projects on the island on Friday, Director of Grenadines Affairs, Edwin Snagg told reporters that there cannot be 24-hour unrestricted access to the beaches where the resorts are located.

Carenage, another of the beaches in the "developed" north of Canouan. (IWN photo)
Carenage, another of the beaches in the “developed” north of Canouan. (IWN photo)

“There must be a certain level of control and management and I think it is simple as that,” said Snagg, who is originally from the Southern Grenadines, and has failed in all of his five attempts to win that constituency for the ruling Unity Labour Party.

“The investors here have indicated quite clearly that anybody who comes to the gate and wants to have access to go to the beach is brought here by a golf cart.”

He noted that private vehicles are not allowed inside the resort, adding that this rule applies to homeowners within the developed area.

If a group larger than 10 persons wants to go to the beach, they are required to provide early notice “so that they (resort) can make the necessary arrangement,” Snagg said.

“The whole thing is that there is a system and it has to have certain amount of balance and reasonableness on both sides of the turf,” Snagg told reporters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27DTBKMZP2s

‘not giving up your rights…’

“I mean, one, you are not giving up your rights because if you compromise because of a particular situation,” he said, noting the number of persons that the resort employs and “the overall spill off and the benefit to the country as a whole.

“And if you compromise, it doesn’t mean that you are giving up your right or you are giving up a privilege. It doesn’t belittle you. It doesn’t do that to you, because you still have access to come.

“One can say that you can still come by boat and I wouldn’t say that because that is not an issue,” he said, noting that anyone can access the beach by boat.

“You can always come by boat, because nobody can stop you from coming to any beach, go to any beach in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but public access is where the issue is. It is a complicated issue, but things do happen and arrangements are always made. And why can’t we make an arrangement where you can come to the beach by coming to the gate?”

Director of Grenadines Affairs, Edwin Snagg. (IWN photo)
Director of Grenadines Affairs, Edwin Snagg. (IWN photo)

Snagg noted that some persons have said that they don’t want the investors to feel that they are doing beachgoers a favour by transporting them by golfcart to the beach.

“It’s not a favour, it is your right to go to the beach. All beaches in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are public, but here you have a resort, a five-star resort and you have a certain type of clientele and one has to understand, one, your security issue, which is always a critical element.”

He said while he is not belittling his people, there are people who would ride into the resort in the middle of the night on a motorbike that doesn’t have a muffler.

“Or we have some villas here where I see copper guttering. Ah mean, you ha’ to be so mindful and careful, particularly with the tourism product as it is right now.”

‘challenges … not insurmountable’

Snagg said he believes that in the initial stages of the project, which began in the 90s under the James Mitchell New Democratic Party administration, the people of Canouan did not have an understanding of the project.

“I think that the PR work that was done then, I mean, probably was not its best. And the project emerged and as it is emerging, you are seeing some of the difficulties that are coming up. In fact, I will call them challenges, because they are not insurmountable. And certainly they can be sorted out by understanding and there must be a certain amount of reasonableness and balance on both sides of the turf.”

Asked to comment on the view that an access road can be built outside the resort, Snagg said:

“You see the thing about it, and that is why you were brought here so you can see the configuration.

L'anse Guyac, one of the beaches to which residents of Canouan want land access. (IWN photo)
L’anse Guyac, one of the beaches to which residents of Canouan want land access. (IWN photo)

 

“Where is the possibility of an access road to get to this place?” he said of the area where 1,200 acres of lands have been leased to developers.

He said there was under utilisation of the beaches before the tourism development.

“Obviously, we know that. But I don’t want to go there, because the people of Canouan are entitled to come to the beach whenever they want, if they don’t come for six months, they ain’t come for a year, they ain’t come for 10 years, or, as in some case, where they ain’t come here for 15 years. That is their right.”

‘access a must’ 

But Canouan resident and community activist, Terry Bynoe, is maintaining that land access to the beaches “is a must”.

“We cannot continue to go down this road and just look at the investment dollar without looking for your people’s interest as well. Investment must be for the people first,” he told reporters separately on Friday in Canouan.

He said persons who want to accept the resort’s offer of transportation via golf cart or bus are free to do so.

“Nothing is wrong with going on the golf cart but what happens if they decide they are not doing it tomorrow? It is a favour. They don’t have to do it. But there must be an access where a man and his wife can walk to the beach if they choose to,” he said, adding that the resort management would not just dedicate a golf cart there or driver for a bus everyday for if locals want to go to the beach.

“It’s a cost and you can chose to stop it at anytime,” said Bynoe said, who asked what would happen if the resort changes management.

Canouan community activist Terry Bynoe. (IWN photo)
Canouan community activist Terry Bynoe. (IWN photo)

For Bynoe, public access is “if there is an area the government can acquire for an 8- or 10-foot road or if there is a boardwalk from Twin Bay onto Godahl if you don’t want us to drive through the resort.

“There must be a public access where people can use,” Bynoe noted.

Told by one journalist that the resort owners are not stopping residents of the island from visiting the beaches, Bynoe said, “That’s what they say.

“What about me who has an injunction?” said Bynoe against whom the resort secured an injunction 16 years ago preventing him from coming onto their property.

“What if they take out one on you tomorrow if you choose to advocate the same things that I do? The thing is, public access is a must and it must be put in place that persons, if they don’t want to ride on your golf cart, if I have my uncle on a wheelchair or my wife, I must be able to push her to the beach.

“Nothing is wrong with who want to go on the golf cart. But there must be a public access that does not deny the people at any moment.

“Access must be put and the fight will continue until it’s done,” Bynoe said.

7 replies on “Gov’t wants ‘compromise’; activist says access to Canouan’s beaches ‘a must’ (+Video)”

  1. If you analyze what Snag actually said it is a matter of the people being viewed by the resort owners and agreed by him are a bunch of yobs and thieves.

    Whilst the resorts home owners can walk to the village, the villagers cannot walk to the resort beach. Surely that is form of apartheid, them and us. I must ask will the proposed golf carts have the words ‘blacks only’ painted on them.

    1. There certainly are a lot of thieves! Both Vincentians and tourists get robbed regularly on the beaches of SVG. The real facts make the issue a difficult one. Whenever I went to the beaches in Canouan I never took any valuables because that is just an invitation to be robbed. Another thing I did not like was that most of the time I found dirty baby diapers buried wherever I sat down…sick! I have been to many beaches in the world and the same problems exist everywhere (except the diapers). It may be a bad decision by government thinking they can allow exclusive beaches in SVG when most countries do not have these. Investors are getting these areas seeing ahead of time that they can create “private beaches” during the development. On the other hand I would not like it if I paid thousands of dollars to come to a place to be robbed, raped, murdered, or just bothered by locals wanting to con me out of my money or belongings, let alone the dirty baby diapers everywhere. SVG has to re-think it’s tourism goals. Either drop the “support” for exclusive beaches, set up cameras and prosecute violators or find another solution.

  2. See mr. Snagg thinking with his ass. Why does one have to give ample notice to access a public beach? Why don’t the ULP feat up and do right by the people of Canouan. To be coming with all those stupid talks, Mr. Snagg has got to be from outa space so he does not know what is taking place on earth.

  3. C. ben-David says:

    Seems from this that there was no traditional road or path to the beaches in question which is the critical legal issue.

    Did IWNews ask about this?

    If there was no historical path or road, then providing one now is not legally required.

    If I am wrong, Bynoe and his group should push the matter to courts by taking a cavalcade of motorcycles to the beach and wait to be actioned for trespass.

    That he has taken little direct action on this issue speaks for itself.

  4. Watching Hard says:

    Why is it only Canouan residents who are involved in this struggle. Are mainlanders not interested in access to the beach too? Why are mainlanders sitting back on their lazy assess and allowing Canouan residents to do all the donkey work? Where is the solidarity?

    So the Canouan residents must compromise. What is the compromise that the hotelier will make? Interested residents both mainlanders and from Canouan would do well to get themselves some legal assistance and guidance. This whole proposed setup is highly suspect.

    As some blogger intimated, this whole posture by the hotelier is just white privilege manifesting itself.

  5. Here is what the dictionary says about compromise.

    Compromise, noun

    1/ an agreement or settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.

    synonyms: agreement, understanding, settlement, terms, accommodation;

    2/ the expedient acceptance of standards that are lower than is desirable.

    There can be no compromise on a right, you cannot make concessions on something you already own.

    The government want the islanders to make concessions because they are as guilty as hell and have done something wrong.

  6. Brown Boy USA says:

    When is this nonsense ever going to stop? Isn’t Vincentians have enough to bear already? Now you taking their lands and preventing them access to beaches and we think this is something good? Good for who, those of you politicians who are benefitting financial from the developers? You can’t tell me, like how we have access to beaches in Villa and Indian Bay, that a small portion of land could not be put aside for exclusive access to the beach? You mean to tell me that ever square inch of land must be used by the developers and the citizens of the island is at their mercy to get the beach? What is this? And the people of SVG does see anything wrong with this? Why don’t we just sell the entire island then and have our people move to somewhere else? The British did it to our Caribs back in the days and now it is happening again, only a in different form. Vincentians fight for your rights and your lands otherwise our children and grandchildren will have nothing to themselves or to enjoy. There are certain things that is much more valuable than millions of dollars, that is our freedom and rights to our natural resources. They must not be restricted by anyone, whether wealthy locals or foreigners. Muddoooo! ah can’t tek it anymore!

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