“If the people are going to lose their road, there will be no hotel.”
These words from Invest Saint Lucia (ISL) Chair Pinkley Francis sought to reassure residents of Morne Sion, Choiseul, and surrounding areas during a meeting held on Sunday, August 27.
The Sustainable and Well-Planned Development Action Group (SWDAG) held their second town-hall yesterday to “find information so that we can eventually make a decision whether we are for or against the [Fairmont Hotel] project” according to the group’s representative Kensley Charlemagne.
The ISL chair, area Member of Parliament Bradly Felix (UWP Choiseul/Saltibus), and a representative from the Citizens by Investment Unit (CIU) were all invited to meet with residents, but only the first two individuals turned up.
The CIU declined the invitation to attend, because “they did not want to be bombarded with questions they did not have answers for”, according to Charlemagne.
At least 70 people attended the meeting, spilling out of the small room into the parking lot and along the roadside.
Tense and boisterous at times, the audience peppered the head table with questions and concerns centered on the possible relocation of a public road that passed through the development property.
Despite repeated reassurances from both Minister Felix and Francis that no final decision had yet been taken regarding the fate of this road, people continued to express apprehension about the negative impact such a move could have on pedestrians, fisherfolk, and other community members.
Additional concerns were raised about language in the Fairmont Hotel’s press releases advertising “a 1870ft private beach.”
The intense negative public reaction that this discrepancy/inaccuracy in the hotel’s marketing collateral engendered caused Choiseul native Felix to issue a sternly-worded statement of reassurance.
“I’ll give you my word…if Fairmont Hotel tries to prevent any Choiseulian or any Saint Lucian from having access to that beach, mark my words, I’ll be the first to come out and protest. This is the beach that I bathe on, that I have all my recreation on.”
Both Felix and Francis insisted that they did not have any knowledge of Fairmont’s private beach claim, although the hotel’s press release has been widely circulated on travel and trade websites since July of this year.
The three-hour meeting concluded with a request from the SWDAG that Felix and Francis assist them by inviting a representative of the GP Group (the project’s developers) to the next townhall meeting, which is yet to be announced.
CLICK HERE to view the original press release announcing the Fairmont Hotel development