September 21, 2020

Nothing “fishy” about Barkers, insists Eugene

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Eugene Ebanks says he and other owners are unhappy at the suggested location in Barkers and say Salt Creek is the better option.

Veteran boat captain and MLA Eugene Ebanks insists he has no hidden agenda, and his proposals to have a hurricane safe harbour in Barkers was made with the best intentions.

Other boat colleagues in the marine world are unhappy with his ideas to construct the site in West Bay.

A safe harbour, or safe hole, is needed to prevent boats damaging residential properties during hurricanes. Many homes were left in a serious state of disrepair after Ivan tore through the area sending vessels into pools and crashing into buildings.

Fellow boat captain, Bryan Ebanks says he and other owners are unhappy at the suggested location in Barkers and say Salt Creek is the better option.

But MLA Eugene Ebanks said since the development of luxury homes in Salt Creek, Barkers is the better choice.

He said: “The two main reasons for which the boat owners are suggesting Salt Creek is that Barkers is closer to the sea, and its elevation is not as high as Salt Creek.

“Salt Creek has traditionally been a better location, but since the development of the area you now have multimillion-dollar homes there.”

The MLA indicated that the south and west side of the Salt Creek area are residential properties, but that the north side of the area, which the boat owners are referring to, is underdeveloped.

But he said the residents of the other areas have had unfavourable experiences with fishing boats during Hurricane Ivan and would not be too willing to have a hurricane safe house within the vicinity.

He said: “You are not going to get the residents to agree with having boats docked there. Even the people that live there that have boats have said that their neighbours don’t want them to have their boats there during a hurricane.

“The people do not want this because of what happened there during Ivan. Boats ended up in people’s pools, damaging people’s homes, and in addition to that, to get to Salt Creek by land you have to go across private property.”

MLA Eugene Ebanks says that he also believes those who wrongfully suspect there are hidden agendas could be spreading false messages.

He said: “I know there are certain elements out there that are trying to imply the worst of the worst.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It is being implied that I am trying to get a hurricane hole in Barkers because I want to dredge a channel across the head of Barkers, into the reef, but nothing could be further from the truth. There is no hidden agenda.”

The West Bay representative also dismissed any suggestion that he was not being sensitive to the boat owners needs, and asserted that he too is fully Caymanian and is equally concerned about the fishermen’s welfare.

He said: “I am a fifth generation Caymanian, I started with my dad in the watersports business since I was nine years old, my father is now 95 years old.

“I have known these guys all my life. Eight out of ten can always call on me; if there is something I can do to help them, they’ve got it.”

Mr. Ebanks says that he is not ignoring the fishermen, and he believes that they should be allowed to voice their concerns, but he is not willing to accommodate opposition he finds unconstructive.

He added: “They are as important as anybody else. They all have a right to express their concerns.

“Whether they agree or disagree, I know that when the time comes they will use the facility. All constructive input is welcomed. We should be in a position to be able to agree to disagree.”

 

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