Proposals to build cruise ship docks on the rocks

2020, April 2: Government plans to build new cruise port docking and reception facilities in Grand Cayman is again stalled. A national referendum called for by citizens of the Cayman Islands, which would determine whether plans to build a new cruise port facility could proceed, was set back following a court decision.

The referendum was set for December 19. 2019 However, it was postponed once the court ruled that the legislation drafted to facilitate the plebiscite was ‘incompatible’ with section 70 of the territory’s Constitution.

George Town, Cayman Islands

Section 70 speaks to provisions and requirements of a general referendum law, which does not now exist. And so, the court felt that the Referendum Law of 2019, duly passed Parliament in October 2019, could not have been in accordance with a law that did not exist. When the date for the referendum was set, the citizens who had raised opposition to the building of the new cruise piers and successfully campaigned for the referendum, made applications to appeal for a judicial review of the date set for the referendum – that it was before an updated environmental impact assessment was completed. They were concerned about the timing; the wording of the referendum question; that it excluded 220 newly registered voters; that there were no campaign finance rules or restrictions; and, that allowances were made for the sale of alcohol on Referendum Day. Such requirements and provisions would have been contained in a general referendum law, referred to in the Constitution.

The Court accepted the arguments with the judge chiding the legislative branch, saying it was unfortunate that the need for a general referendum law had not been addressed by any government despite recommendations made by the Constitutional Committee in 2011 and 2014.

The proposed $200 million cruise pier development would allow passengers to disembark on shore. It includes development of two piers able to accommodate mega cruise ships. The proposal also includes renovations to the current cargo port facilities. []

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