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Cannonier highlights Public Works projects

Minister of Public Works Craig Cannonier (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Craig Cannonier said the Bermuda Government is hoping to advance projects that benefit the wider community this year with its Throne Speech pledges.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, highlighted the planned improvements to White Hill Field among other initiatives, saying the Government hoped to build a community centre on the Sandys site.

“We were fortunate enough to continue discussions with Wedco, and we were made aware they had three of the prefab homes, which they have made available to us,” he said.

“We had been looking at White Hill Field with the Department of Youth and Sport. This is a widely used field, but it is not of an international standard. What we are seeking to do here is get that field to international standards so that not only can it entertain local sports, but international sports as well.

“The area representative for the One Bermuda Alliance [Senator Georgia Marshall] has been on us, looking to get a facility built there, so I am glad.”

He also noted plans to demolish the former recycling plant in Devonshire, replacing it with a community playground.

“It has been the subject of media attention, with many of the recycling bags that are there,” he said. “We will be clearing that area for the community and putting up basketball courts and the like for the community so they have a social area to gather together to enjoy.”

Other elements of the Throne Speech were improvements to various bathrooms, particularly those servicing visitors to the island’s beaches, continuing the sale of derelict government buildings and working to help support the growth of small businesses.

“A lot of contracts go out from us, and many times they go out to small businesses,” he said. “We are now tracking these small businesses and looking at ideas of how we can continue to track that to improve and get more of our small businesses involved in government works.”

Asked for more details about the sale of government property, he said the hope was that about eight properties could be put up for sale this fiscal year, describing last year’s sale offer of the Harrington Sound Post Office as a test.

“I don’t think there is anyone in Parliament today who was around the last time a property has been sold by the Government in this manner, so we are looking at policies and how we put these out, maybe some for residential and some for non-profit organisations and the like.”

On the subject of the island’s trash trucks, he said financial constraints had prevented the Government from purchasing new trucks and maintenance issues had arisen.

“The maintenance team and the facilities guys have been working overtime to make sure we have sufficient trucks, but there is a challenge with an ageing fleet,” he said. “We are seeking how we can better maintain these trucks, but it is not always easy.”

Questioned about renovations to the Causeway — something that was not included in the Throne Speech — he said the present focus was on the Swing Bridge.

“We want to get that in full operation. It will be back to two-lane traffic before Christmas this year,” he said. “That is our goal, and then we will look at what we do with Longbird Bridge. That is a far greater plan that may involve the airport operation and what we do there.”

He also said that the long-running sidewalk work near the junction of Burnt House Hill and Middle Road should be completed shortly.

“One of the challenges we had there was working with Belco. They wanted to put the lines underground and it became an extremely expensive project, so our work stopped to figure out what we were going to do going forward.

“That should be finished very shortly. Soon.”