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Letter: Let’s preserve our canals
Sunday, 01 January 2012 10:38

The canal systems in Freeport were created by the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) and is considered a private waterway governed by them. In order to preserve and manage these systems, the GBPA established a set of by-laws that are still in effect today. Unfortunately, over the years, these laws have been ignored causing the steady decay of the existing seawalls placing the burden of repair of these walls on the property owners.

The blame for this decay must be placed on both private and commercial operators. The private boaters are either unaware of the damage they are doing or more likely they just don’t care as long as they can get away with it. The commercial operators are simply ignoring the laws looking more at profits than preserving the canal front properties.

When the first “Banana Boat” operator began his tour in Bell Channel, this enraged the property owners who demanded that the GBPA respond to their concerns. Arthur Jones, Vice President of Building and Development Services for GBPA, released a statement detailing the Port’s stance on the matter and reminding the public of the by-laws and the penalties for violating them.

This statement was published in this media in April 2010, and my letter is submitted to remind the public of its content. Mr. Jones stated that “Speeding boaters were causing too much turbidity in the water and creating excessive scouring effects on the foundation of seawalls. This thereby creates erosion, making the seawalls unstable and damaging protection to the properties along the waterways. Additionally, according to the by-laws, commercial sea craft operators are not allowed to bring booze cruises, banana boats, jet skis, etc into the canals. The penalty for violation of such laws is three months imprisonment and revocation of licenses.”

Mr. Jones went on to say “The Port’s stance is that we want persons to obey the by-laws. We will post signs to remind the public of the by-laws and penalties for violating them. Also, we expect to receive additional monitoring from the police with regard to this matter.”

When this statement was submitted, the police were at a disadvantage to respond to complaints since they had limited equipment and were stationed at Freeport Harbour. The property owners were happy to receive the Port’s backing but again were left wondering how these laws would be enforced. Since then, the GBPA has posted new large signs at the main jetties stating that the canals were a “No Wake” zone.

Additionally, the police now have a new office located at the Grand Bahama Sailing Club just inside the Waterway which is equipped with new boats. I have spoken to the officers stationed there and they are both professional and very willing to listen and respond to your complaints. There is no reason now to just sit and let these violators continue to destroy our properties; we now have laws with teeth and the police nearby to respond to your complaints (351-5390).

If we all stand together and report these violators we may be able to preserve what we have left, otherwise we just might one day find out that our back yards have fallen into the water.

 -L.


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