Mayor Outerbridge: Supports idea of a Monte Carlo-style casino in Hamilton. *File photo
Mayor Outerbridge: Supports idea of a Monte Carlo-style casino in Hamilton. *File photo

It is just over a year since Graeme Outerbridge was voted in as the Mayor of Hamilton. In that time he has seen a change of Government and locked horns with business owners as well as politicians. Here he speaks openly to Simon Jones about Hamilton Waterfront, the Regis hotel, gaming and more.


 

What have you learned from your first year in office?

The biggest thing I have learned is to listen more and say less. This experience has also taught me how important it is to work with people and get them in the right positions.

What do you feel your major achievements have been?

We have worked through the challenges of less money and managed to make some considerable improvements to the roads lighting, sidewalks and infrastructure of North East Hamilton. That work will continue with our focus on Princess Street and Ewing Street in the coming year.

What are your plans moving forward?

The waterfront is the big project we would like to see movement on, but there are other projects like the pedestrianisation of Reid Street between Burnaby and Queens Street we hope to see gain in momentum. We are in a holding pattern at the moment as the biggest problem we have is loss of revenue.

Would you change anything about the way you handled the waterfront development announcement as it clearly upset some?

No, we followed the proper process that had been laid down and I would do the same again. We saw this as a potential new source of revenue and we moved on it. The City has spent millions on plans that are still sitting on the shelves. This is an idea that has been around a long time, the only difference is we acted on it.

How likely is it that the waterfront project will go ahead?

This can address a lot of opportunity. Finding this developer was a major step so when Government put its oar in it disrupted that. This is a project that will be driven by foreign investment, not local money. And this is only the beginning, there is a long way to go and a lot of consultation that needs to be done.

What would it entail?

The first phase would be development from Albouy’s Point to the docks — how far that would reach into the harbour Government would have a big say in. Then the docks would eventually have to be relocated but that would have to be done in a well-ordered and thought out way.

How would you characterize the Corporation’s relationship with Government?

It’s getting better. There is more of an understanding now. Before there was an incorrect perception that the City administration was PLP. The refreshing thing about our team is that as a group we are outside political affiliation.

Where do you stand on gaming?

If it is a Monte Carlo-style gaming with a couple of significant, well heeled, top end casinos in Hamilton, then it would be a good idea.

Do you have strong connections with business people who would benefit greatly if gaming was allowed in Bermuda?

No. I have not even been lobbied about this question of gaming. The City can take a lead in this area and it would be a feather in our cap if it is acted upon.

Will the plans for the Regis Hotel in the Par La Ville ever materialize?

We are close. I will wait until all the ducks are in a row before we can make an announcement with Government but the project is inching forward.

Is there dissent within your Corporation team?

Yes there are some areas of dissent, but it is not holding us back. To a man and woman we want to lead the city to the best place and a better financial state than we found it in.

Should the business community get the vote in Hamilton?

It’s a tricky one. Clearly this Government wants to be seen to be supporting local business and I am not going to say ‘no’ there is not going to be a business vote. But the general view of my board members is that it would be a step backwards and I lean towards a residential vote.

Is there a disconnect between the Corporation and the business community?

There has been in the past and I think we have tried to heal this by reaching out to them. We listened to them when they opposed the $25 awning charge. I don’t know any examples of this happening before. But I was really shocked at how few businessmen and women came forward in the elections last year. Even if the business element were dissatisfied they would done something about that.