‘Construction on ‘Cholera Burying Ground’ no health threat’
Front Page
August 31, 2007

‘Construction on ‘Cholera Burying Ground’ no health threat’

The construction of a parking lot on the land at the back of St. George’s Cathedral, known as “Cholera Burying Ground”, does not pose a health threat.{{more}}

Dr. Roger Duncan, Medical Officer of Health, has confirmed this.

In 1854, a cholera epidemic broke out in St. Vincent, resulting in the death of over 2000 people. The church land, one of several cholera grounds around the country, was used to bury some of the dead. Since that time, the area has not been disturbed.

Dr. Duncan, speaking to SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday, said the site has been certified as safe. He confirmed that there is no public health threat or risk of contracting cholera at the site.

Dean of the Cathedral, Rev. Patrick McIntosh, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, recalled that the site was certified by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as posing no health risk to the public as early as 1977.

He said the Milton Cato administration had sent copies of these letters to Bishop Cuthbert Woodroffe.

Dean McIntosh stated that he was a young priest back then, and can clearly recall that the government was interested in allocating the parcel of land for the construction of a comprehensive school as a replacement for the Kingstown Anglican School. Plans were in place to move the elementary school, which was operating, in an area considered to be in the business section of the capital.

Dean McIntosh explained that the church did not sell the lands, though the government could have taken it. According to Dean McIntosh, the clergy at the time felt that unearthing the area would have been too sensitive a matter in the aftermath of the cholera outbreak.

As the years rolled by, Dean McIntosh said proposals were put forward by the clergy to construct a complex and auditorium, but the sensitivity of the public was once again considered, and instead of doing a project that required deep digging into the soil, a decision was taken to build a parking lot where the soil would only be graded off.

Dean McIntosh disclosed that plans are in the pipeline to use the parking lot as a recreational centre when not being used for parking, and an adjacent piece of land would be made available to the residents of Paul’s Avenue to utilize for their community activities.