Setting the record straight
On Friday in the House of Assembly, the Minister of Public Works, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, made a statement that was, in my view, an unparliamentary personal attack. He followed this up with interviews to the broadcast media that were simply untrue.
The minister stated that I had thrown away millions of dollars when I stopped the 100 Homes Project at Ireland Island South.
He further stated in his interview to the broadcast media: “How do you justify the decision you made and keep it quiet?”
Further, the minister alleged that I had allowed the concrete panels for two blocks units to be improperly stored, to deteriorate in storms, to be possibly damaged in being moved, and that they may have been ultimately stored in an unsuitable spot at the Sallyport, where they were exposed to the weather.
I will first address the scandalous accusation that I somehow kept it quiet. On June 7, 2013, I made a seven-page statement to the House of Assembly on my decision to stop the 100 Homes Project to staunch the flow of red ink and to save the taxpayer $11 million.
The decision was made in the full light of public scrutiny more than five years ago. It was also widely reported in the news media.
To address the main point that it was wrong to stop the project: this project, like the Grand Atlantic project, would have been nothing more than a white elephant — a complete waste of the people’s money.
The One Bermuda Alliance had questioned the wisdom of this project in the run-up to the 2012 election, which was well known, so the action that we took when we became the Government was no surprise to anyone. We already knew that Bermuda had lost about 5,000 residents and that there was an excess of housing available on the market. Again, the proof of this is the inability to sell any more than one or two of the homes at the Grand Atlantic.
It is interesting to quote the minister’s own description of the type of construction in his statement to the broadcast media: “It was an untraditional build. I personally don’t like them. Had I been minister, I probably would not have agreed to such because I think you have so many unknowns.”
Well, at least there is something the minister and I may agree upon.
In addition, West End Development Corporation owned numerous units at the Boaz Island development, seven of which were sitting empty and which we were refurbishing to make habitable.
I was very concerned about the proposed density of the housing development that would just recreate unhealthy housing conditions. So I am happy to confess to putting 20 homes where they intended to shoehorn in about 50. I recommend that members of the public go and look for themselves. We now have a much more attractive entrance to the Dockyard than there would have been with 100 homes.
Finally, with respect to the storage of the unused concrete panels, that is the responsibility of Wedco.
• Trevor Moniz is an opposition backbencher and the MP for Smith’s West (Constituency 9)