Callaloo Cay on Thursday convened the first meeting of its environmental advisory committee. The commissioning of this committee is as a result of the commitment made at the conclusion of the last consultation held on December 15th. It’s aims are to promote open communication, collaboration, and solution finding between the community residents and the developer, for matters pertaining to environmental management of the project site and surrounding area.
Present at the meeting were Dawood Shah, Callaloo Cay’s Senior Vice President of Business Development, Lucia Mings – environmental consultant, Alexis Thomas of architectural firm OBMI, civil and coastal engineer Evron Zachariah, hydrologist Fazir Khan, of Trinidadian company Alpha Engineering, representatives of the Old Road community including Jameson “Kublai” Mannix, May Olga Browne, and Lena “Queen Ivena” Phillip. Also in attendance were Representatives of the Development Control Authority (DCA), and the Department of Environment who will serve only in a technical advisory capacity. Representatives from the Fisheries department will be asked to attend subsequent meetings.
The belief that the development will increase the flooding associated with the effects of storm water runoff and heavy rains has been the main source of concern. In an in-depth presentation, Mr. Khan gave an overview of findings that included not only the proposed development area, but the surrounding region. He explained in detail the hydraulics and hydrology of the area as well as the mitigation measures that had been recommended for engineering and drainage works on both the development site, and within the community.
At the conclusion of the almost 4-hour meeting and accompanying site visit, it was agreed that the government, the community and developers each have roles to play in finding permanent solutions to the persistent drainage and flooding issues.
OBMI representative Alexis Thomas considered the meeting a success. He said “I think once the residents who were in the room grasped the ideas that were being delivered, and also saw for themselves from the site visit, they got a better understanding, and feel somewhat assured that all efforts will be made to make sure that if not improved, the situation will not be made any worse.
Vocal resident Jameson “Kublai” Mannix remains unmoved and referenced previous projects that had failed to adhere to environmental concerns and had paid scant attention to law. Environmental consultant and committee chairperson Lucia Mings noted that the necessary measures and governmental departments were not as strict then as they are now. She says “in fact, this committee serves as a mechanism to ensure that due process is followed and that commitments are kept”.
Dawood Shah, Callaloo Cay’s Senior Vice President of Business Development is satisfied with meeting’s outcome and says “We are happy to listen to the community’s concerns, to address same, and to ensure that we are following the letter of the law. This is in keeping with our triple bottom line principle of people, planet and profit.” He adds however “this committee will not decide whether or not this development proceeds. Once the relevant government departments are satisfied with, and have approved our plans and mitigation measures, we will break ground on the first phase of the development.”