The development of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel has brought Bermuda to a crossroad when it comes to the development of large-scale hotel properties in Bermuda.
The latest discussions regarding the development of the hotel have resulted because of the scale of this multi-million-dollar project and the development of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel. Let us be clear, we in the One Bermuda Alliance, like the rest of Bermuda, support the refurbishment and redevelopment of the hotel complex.
The unsettling challenge that we and the rest of Bermuda face, is the scale and impact of the 261 villas and apartments, which will be attached to the hotel property and how it will provide the appropriate returns that investors and developers must realize to recover their investments.
We in the Opposition understand how this model works, and like all models, they come with benefits as well as costs to the communities in which they are developed, as well as the investors, and developers.
As in other small jurisdictions, projects of this magnitude are of national importance as they impact peoples’ lives, their homes, their neighborhoods, communities, health, and the surrounding environment. In fact, most of Bermuda is so concerned that within in a matter of days, a group of concerned Bermudians who oppose the current plans, launched a petition which has secured over 2600 names and signatures.
Considering the above, we recognize the need for a Special Development Order because this project is truly of national interest. The voices of the community must be heard and respected. There must be some consensus between the people of Bermuda, the developers, the investors, environmental groups, and the government of Bermuda.
Going forward, the Opposition calls on the Government to make an exception and present this Fairmont Southampton Special Development Order to both houses of Parliament under the affirmative resolution, so that democracy is reaffirmed, as the draft SDO will have the full scrutiny of all the elected members of the House and Bermuda’s senators.
It must not be presented under the negative resolution, as the completed SDO will be presented as a completed statutory instrument and Parliament can within 21 days or after three sittings, whichever is later, send a message to the Governor requesting that the SDO statutory instrument be annulled or any part thereof. There will be no opportunity to amend the SDO based on the wishes of the people of Bermuda.
This Government cannot continue to ignore the obvious anxiety that this project has had on the community over the years. They must cease demonstrating its insensitivities to the concerns of the people of Bermuda.