Local concern: Hundreds of walkers toured the potential SDO area on Sunday. *Photo by Liz Campbell
Local concern: Hundreds of walkers toured the potential SDO area on Sunday. *Photo by Liz Campbell
Just about every Bermudian is nostalgic for the glory days of tourism and desperately hopes that somehow, someway, sometime, they can happen again.

But just about every Bermudian has been taken advantage of because of this sacred dream.

Take, for example, the 125-year lease Government gave Coco Reef Hotel, plus a Special Development Order granting it, among other things, the right to build a pile of villas and a six-storey building.

Controversy

Take, for example, the permission Government gave (originally) to build a modern luxury hotel at Southlands, so intrusive on our natural beauty that it would have required South Shore Road to be diverted into a tunnel beneath it.

Take, for example, the current controversy — the SDO given to Tucker’s Point, already the beneficiary of previous special planning rule exceptions, to build an additional 78 private homes and 70 hotel rooms.

These are all cases of the people of Bermuda being asked to help “rebuild tourism” while clearly hurting the beauty of Bermuda that attracted tourists in the first place.

These are all cases of tourism fouling its own nest. Or rather, of individual businesses — in an effort to maximize their profits or minimize their losses — fouling a nest that is shared with the rest of Bermuda. The South Shore views from the penthouse suite of a Coco Reef high-rise would undoubtedly be spectacular.

What everybody else would see would be a towering building.

The vistas from the glamorous Jumeirah hotel for Southlands would have been spectacular, stretching to the edge of the sea.

The rest of Bermuda, and the rest of Bermuda’s tourists staying elsewhere, would have been rewarded with a ride through a tunnel, where once they had a tree-lined drive by the edge of the water.

In the same way, the Tucker’s Point proposal will benefit Tucker’s Point guests and real estate clients.

The views, say, from the new luxury home on the cliffs of Harrington Sound would be wonderful, as would the views from houses built on the hillsides above it.

But imagine what it would be like for any other tourists, and for Bermudians, if we count for much.

The well-travelled drive along Harrington Sound, from Harrington Sound Post Office towards the east, now has spectacular water views through the trees, with a wooded hillside rising to the right.

The special exception given by Government’s development order would make the back-end of luxury houses the most notable part of that view.

Our views, in other words, would become that of buildings from which a small group of people are enjoying the views we all once had.

Sustainable

There is, and should be, concern for the caves, trees and the creatures that live there.

But there is a far bigger, more visible and more immediate concern — under the banner of helping tourism we are destroying over the very things that tourists come to see.

The headline on the Progressive Labour Party website reads ‘Tuckers Point and the SDO – A Case Study in Sustainable Development’.

The truth is the opposite — it is not the least bit sustainable. We cannot build houses on the cliffs of Harrington Sound and sustain our views of Harrington Sound.

We cannot build houses over wooded hillsides and at the same time preserve our wooded hillsides.

We cannot build over the things that make Bermuda attractive, in the interests of sustaining tourism, and expect tourists to continue to find Bermuda attractive.

The only thing it sustains for certain is a revenue stream for the developers.

Imagine if the business of Tucker’s Point was making steel-belted radials, designing software or selling furniture.

Would we give them special planning exceptions to build on wooded hillsides or beautiful waterfront cliffs? Of course not.

It would be bad for Bermuda and bad for tourism.

But Tucker’s Point, which is in the business of selling real estate more than anything else, boldly dangles the beautiful word ‘tourism’ in front of us.

They conjure up dreams of an industry we think we know and love.

So we roll over and give them what they want.

It is lunacy. The Senate must do its duty and reject the proposed SDO for Tucker’s Point when it meets next week.