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Marina project for St George refloated

Good news: Quinell Francis, Mayor of St George (File photograph)

A plan to launch a marina development in St George could become a reality soon.

The Government’s Throne Speech suggested that legislation to get the project under way would come in this session of Parliament.

Mark Soares, of Bermuda Yacht Services, is happy the marina project was included in the Throne Speech.

Mr Soares said he had been told work was under way to prepare the needed legal changes, but was not aware of a time frame.

He added: “From my conversations with the permanent secretary, I know that they are working on it. They are still keen for it to happen.

“What happened was the changes that were made to the Municipalities Act had affected things.

“The corporations weren’t allowed to offer long leases any more and now everything has to go through Cabinet.”

Mr Soares said that even though the marina had missed last year’s America’s Cup, the marina would still be a success. He explained: “I don’t think it’s too late for it. We have seen increased numbers of yacht visits and the yachts staying longer in Bermuda.

“When we have more facilities, it makes Bermuda appear like more of a destination. I’m still actively promoting Bermuda as a yachting destination.

“There’s also the possibility of more changes in the legislation to encourage yacht visitors to come here and stay here longer.”

The Throne Speech, delivered this month, promised that MPs will be “invited to consider” a Bill to allow construction of the marina to start.

Quinell Francis, the Mayor of St George, was pleased the marina was included in the Government’s blueprint for the parliamentary year.

She added: “We look forward to consultation, drafting, tabling and approving of the necessary legislation for the marina so we can then move forward the long-awaited marina for the Town of St George.”

Glenn Jones, director of strategy and corporate communications for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the marina would help to bring yachts and superyachts to the Unesco World Heritage destination.

He added: “We would consider the marina an important piece in a wider policy strategy that makes Bermuda more competitive versus other nautical tourism destinations and more attractive to sailing events managers and yacht owners.

“We continue to work productively with the Government on many of these issues because we know they will be beneficial to our tourism industry, particularly small business owners throughout Bermuda’s economy.”

The Corporation of St George has tried to have a marina built at Ordnance Island for more than eight years.

But progress was slow, despite backing from both Progressive Labour Party and One Bermuda Alliance governments.

A “final agreement” between developers and the corporation for a marina was signed in 2015.

Legal amendments to give breaks on duty on construction materials for the marina were approved by the House of Assembly the following year.

The Corporation of St George announced a plan to develop both a marina and a 60-room boutique hotel in the town in 2010.

The hotel proposal was put on the back burner in 2012 because of finance problems, but the marina proposal was continued.