Better relationship: Mayor Graeme Outerbridge with Councillor Keith Davis who told the Sun he believed that the relationship between the Government and Corporation could improve. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Better relationship: Mayor Graeme Outerbridge with Councillor Keith Davis who told the Sun he believed that the relationship between the Government and Corporation could improve. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

Hamilton Mayor Graeme Outerbridge has defended the City’s handling of multi-million dollar plans to develop the waterfront.

Mr Outerbridge told the Bermuda Sun that the Corporation tried to arrange a meeting with the new Government for the first nine weeks of its tenure to discuss the proposals, but without success.

And he maintained that the public would have ample opportunity to have their say on the Allied Development Partners plans.

Mr Outerbridge said: “I do not believe the criticism we have received about consultation has been valid.

“You have to remember we had been working on this project back at the end of the last PLP administration.

“The process did not begin on day one of the new Government taking office.

“For the first nine weeks of the new Government we tried to get a meeting to talk about the waterfront.”

Work together

The Mayor said he was still hopeful that Government and the Corporation could work together on developing the waterfront despite an Ombudsman inquiry into the City’s handling of the project.

Mr Outerbridge would not answer questions relating to the Ombudsman investigation saying: “It’s a matter before the courts and the answers will come from that direction.”

But he maintained that the City’s agreement with Allied Development Partners Ltd to push forward the redevelopment project was not dependent on gaming being legalized in Bermuda.

Councillor Keith Davis told the Sun he believed the relationship between the Corporation and Government would improve as both sides had the best interests of Bermuda at heart.

He said: “Initially both sides were strangers to each other. Both came into effect within a short period of time. But we both have the same focus and we will get there.”

Mr Outerbridge said that the 262-year lease signed between Allied and the Corporation had been taken from a Government template used in other projects such as Club Med and 9 Beaches.

While Mr Davis conceded there was the opportunity for changes to be made to the lease ‘in relation to the parties involved’ within the lease’s term.

The Mayor added: “The development of the City waterfront is of the utmost importance for the future revitalization of Hamilton and a revenue stream for the Corporation of Hamilton.

“After nearly 50 years of discussion, I am delighted that this project is moving forward with a development partner. It is the most significant development project that Bermuda has ever undertaken. We will continue to consult with the public — as previous administrations have done — to ensure that this project is one that every Bermudian and every resident can be proud of.

“We are excited about the selection of Allied Development Partners, a Bermudian company, as our development partner.

“We are also excited about their concepts; however, we wish to remind the public that they are only concepts. Plans will be drawn up once we have had the opportunity to meet with all stakeholders over the coming months.”

“The Corporation is continuing to work with Government to provide the necessary documents for its due diligence review and the developers are currently working on the first drawdown of funds.”

Mayor's claim about lack of access to Government 'misleading and untrue'

In response to yesterday’s developments and announcements made by the Mayor of Hamilton, Greame Outerbridge, a Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson offered the following today, particularly as it relates to meeting with members of the Corporation of Hamilton.

A spokesperson said, “It should be clarified that the Minister of Home Affairs, Sen. Michael Fahy together with Premier, the Hon. Craig Cannonier, met with the Corporation of Hamilton regarding the Waterfront Project within the first few weeks of taking office. A follow-up meeting with the Corporation’s Development Team was planned pending the receipt of the lease and other related documents.

 “In fact the Minister has met on numerous occasions with the Corporation and its representatives during the period. Concerns regarding the Request For Proposal (RFP) process, the work flowing from the Ombudsman’s investigation and Municipalities Reform have all been topics of discussion. And the Ministry anxiously awaits the outcome of the Ombudsman’s submission.”

 The public will already be aware that the Ministry confirmed receipt of the outstanding waterfront lease in June this year, and due diligence work is now in progress.

 “Any suggestion that the Government failed to meet with the Corporation of Hamilton on this matter within the first nine weeks of its tenure is therefore misleading and untrue,” the Ministry spokesperson concluded.