‘Peace Treaty’ between developers, Canouan residents breaks down
January 6, 2017
‘Peace Treaty’ between developers, Canouan residents breaks down

The start of a new year is supposed to bring new beginnings; but it seems as though the relationship between Canouan developers and some of the Grenadine island’s residents has reverted to a familiar, yet hostile nature.

Canouan activist Terry Bynoe informed SEARCHLIGHT that last Friday, December 30, he and other concerned residents held a protest outside the checkpoint entrance to the Canouan Resort Development (CRD) Ltd owned Pink Sands Resort, after a blockade of buoys was placed, blocking the sea entry to L’Ance Guyac beach.

Tensions were re-ignited in the past two weeks when a buoy blockade that had cordoned off a section of the beach, intended for use only by guests of the resort, was extended – thereby blocking off the entire bay.

Bynoe told SEARCHLIGHT that he and other residents had agreed to the guest-only zone when the newly appointed chief executive officer of Canouan Estate Villas and Residences John Dwyer expressed the resort’s intention to establish a guest-only zone on L’Ance Guyac.

“We said okay; we could work with that… We even cancelled our picnics because guests were here and we want the guests to enjoy, so that they wouldn’t say we disturb them,” he explained.

The Canouan activist further explained that when residents first discovered that the buoys were blocking sea access entirely, he spoke to the CEO about the matter, and the original boundaries of the guest-only zone were re-established.

However, according to Bynoe, a few days later, when Italian investor Andrea Pignataro visited the resort, the blockade was once again extended.

“I was angry and I asked them to remove it that morning but they didn’t remove it. So, that evening we went and we took them up on the advice of our lawyer, and we took them to the Coastguard base,” said Bynoe.

“If a man set a net to catch turtle, and block off a whole bay and prevent boat users from entering, it would be wrong. So, anybody could move that obstruction aside or put it on the shore so that whoever it belongs to could get it if they want to… So, if it’s not legal to block it, then we say it’s not illegal for us to remove it (the buoys)!”

He recalled that initially, the Coastguard officers (stationed at the base in Canouan) told the group of residents that they should take the buoys elsewhere, as they did not want to get involved.

The group attempted to leave the buoys on the beach in front of the Coastguard base, and were threatened with arrest, which they ignored and proceeded to off-load the buoys, in question.

This prompted the officers to  seize not only the buoys, but also the dinghy (owned by Canouan resident John Compton) that had been used to transport the buoys to the base.

The Canouan resort was able to re-possess their buoys two days after that incident. However, the owner of the dinghy was not able to get has vessel back until five days later.

In addition to the blocked sea access, Bynoe claims that Canouan residents are not being allowed access to the road that passes through the resort to get to the beach.

He said that he and several other residents have attempted to pass through the resort, but have been refused entry.

This is in contrast to last year October when CEO John Dwyer agreed that residents wishing to access the beach would be allowed to use the road, including Bynoe, who still has an injunction against him that prohibits him from accessing CRD property.

“I didn’t know I had to be allowed to go to the beach. We argued that the road is public road and we will continue to use it to go to public beaches.”

Bynoe vowed that he would continue to protest until the matter is “addressed properly”.

In August 2000, tensions came to a head between the developers at Canouan Resorts (CRD) Ltd and locals, who objected to the company seemingly being given leeway on not adhering to a 12-point agreement signed by Bynoe, CRD Ltd and then Prime Minister James Mitchell.

At the forefront of the protest action then, Bynoe had found himself in a physical altercation with security personnel on CRD Ltd property, which resulted in him being charged with unlawful entry and assault, and subsequently slapped with an injunction that prohibited him from accessing lands owned by CRD Ltd.

Tensions then flared up again in February 2016, with the establishment of ‘no anchor zones’ on the east and west coasts of Canouan, and the building of structures that blocked public access to several beaches – in particular Godahl and Mahoe beaches.

This resulted in some Canouan residents blocking the checkpoint entrance to the resort in protest, which resulted in CRD Ltd filing legal action against Bynoe, alleging that he and several others had caused the company to lose out on over $1 million in business.

SEARCHLIGHT reached out to CEO John Dwyer, but he was unavailable to comment on the matter. (JSV)