Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has praised the foresight of his predecessor, Sir James Mitchell of the now opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in moving inland two decades ago the Mt Wynne-Peter’s Hope Road.
Gonsalves said that by moving that section of the Leeward Highway inland, Mitchell allowed for more lands below the road and closer to the sea to be available for tourism purposes.
The Gonsalves government is now selling for EC$7 million, 36 of the 681 acres of those lands that the NDP bought for the public in 1989.
Gonsalves also told a press conference on Tuesday that with the NDP government having moved the road more to the centre of the lands, the ULP administration — which came to office in 2001 — was able to build the Central Leeward Secondary School.’’
The school, which replaced the Barrouallie Secondary School, is located in Peter’s Hope along the re-adjusted road.
“Otherwise, we would have to go and cut road,” Gonsalves said.
He further said that the land development project in which GECCU — a credit union, and the National Insurance Services – the state’s social security agency, are involved is as a result of the road that was built during the Mitchell era.
“Because now, you have a big road in the centre — the main road, lands which are even to the top good for housing development.
“That is why too we had available to us the lands to build the largest single low-income housing project in this country,” Gonsalves further said.
He, however, said that Mitchell couldn’t get an investor to invest in tourism development in the area.
“He knows that others had come by but getting hotel development without an international airport is not easy and even with one, there is a lot of competition for foreign direct investment,” Gonsalves said.
Speaking on Boom FM earlier on Tuesday, Mitchell — who retired from politics in October 2000, five months before the NDP, which came to office in 1984, was voted out of office — said he decided to move the road inland and put in utilities, based on Spanish investors in Canouan.
He said that he had thought that if there were a resort in Mt Wynne-Peter’s Hope it would have created a lot of employment and wealth for the Central Leeward district, many residents of which were working in the Grenadines.
Mitchell said his concept for the area was a resort, with farming in the hills, a small botanical gardens and a cycling and horse-riding trail.
“I really wanted a massive development in Mt Wynne and Peter’s Hope and I felt that we could demonstrate a linkage between the farmers in the hills — this time not producing marijuana, but producing their vegetable and animals products for the estate.”
Mitchell said the European Union and the Caribbean Development Bank bought into the project but the financing he was getting for the area was coming in the same way that he got it from Europe for the Ottley Hall Marina Project.
“Mainly, this time, it was export credit guarantee from Spain and I realised that by then that Vincentians didn’t understand what export credit guarantee meant with government giving a guarantee and having a government signing the documents.”
Gonsalves said that Pace development, based in Richmond, Toronto, Canada will build 50 villas of about four rooms each in Mt Wynne-Peter’s Hope and will sell them at US$650,000 each.