The Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce
Please also visit Greenrock, another Bermuda organisation dedicated to the preservation of the environment.
The Bermuda National Trust Celebrate Local Heroes
The Bermuda National Trust celebrated the outstanding work of a number of special individuals and organizations at the Annual Awards ceremony held in the beautiful Bermuda Room at Elbow Beach under the sponsorship of Butterfield and Vallis.
BEPRO INVITES YOU TO LIVE GREEN!
Did you know that by cutting just one minute out of your daily shower, you can reduce your “water footprint” by hundreds, possibly thousands, of gallons each year? The preservation of our physical, social and economic environment is something that affects us all.
Join BEPRO on Tuesday, June 24th, at the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce from 12 – 1pm, for our first official summer Lunch ‘N Learn! Guest speakers from Greenrock and BEST (Bermuda Environmental & Sustainability Taskforce) will discuss ‘living green’, provide tips for practicing sustainability at home, work/school, and the community, as well as information on environmental projects and events that impact both the workplace and the island as a whole.
See attached flyer for more detail and to share with others.
A light lunch will be provided and the event is FREE for BEPRO members; $10 for non-members.
@beprobda #bepro2014 #livegreen
SAVE THE DATE:
July 25th Summer Membership Reception (5:30-7:30PM)
Native American Cree Saying
When the last tree has been cut down
When the last fish has been caught
When all of our waters are polluted
When all the air is unsafe to breathe
Only then will we realize
We cannot eat money
Inspired by Cree Native American Prophecy
Bee Fair FlyerClick here for the Bee Fair flyer - April 12, 2014
April is Environmental Awareness Month
VSB is airing a number of interesting, topical and timely films about the world we live in - click here for flyer
BEST statement in support of petition to reinstate Referendum on casino gambling
The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) wishes to make it clear that while we have expressed our disappointment with the decision to abandon the referendum and with the process leading to that decision, our thrust is for an informed decision, no matter who makes it.
Whether the decision is to be made by the electorate via a referendum or by MPs via parliamentary debate, there is an as yet unfulfilled need for full information on the pros and cons of gambling, particularly for mature economies, such as Bermuda’s, and for small jurisdictions such as Bermuda is.
We see one benefit, among others, of holding a referendum. In the run-up to the referendum the government, and others, will feel obligated to engage in the exercise of educating the public prior to the moment of decision. Thus there would be the opportunity for the electorate to become reasonably well informed and to make their decision based on multiple sources of information.
There is likewise a pitfall, among others, to a Parliamentary debate and decision. There is every likelihood that the decision will be determined not by the power of debate but by whatever predetermined position is taken by the government with its numerical majority.
So while we support the call for a return to the referendum, we believe that referendum or not, the community should be exposed to the broadest possible range of factual, versus emotional or speculative information. We support a referendum because that would seem to be the most fruitful path resulting in a more informed decision. We encourage everyone who cares about Bermuda’s future to read reports on casinos and gambling from a variety of sources, to attend lectures and discussions such as the one at the Leopard’s Club tonight, and to take part in the decision process either by participating in the vote if there is a referendum or speaking to their MP.
We anticipate the question, “Why is BEST, an “environmental group”, involving itself in the gambling issue?” What most people don’t realize is that BEST’s mission encompasses the physical, social and economic environments. While most of our public stances have been about issues affecting the physical environment, we have a broader mandate. For those interested in our work on social and economic issues we invite you to visit our website best.org.bm. There you can find our “Blueprint for Sustainability” as well as our research paper on the Pros and Cons of Gambling.
Southampton Fairmont Princess Development, 18 December 2013
The following is BEST’s response to remarks by Zane DeSilva, MP
MP Zane Desilva has criticised BEST for sharing with the public our information on the scope of development planned for the Fairmont Southampton hotel property. (Bernews 12 Dec 2013: DeSilva: ‘Balance Between Sustainable And No’)
Normally BEST sloughs off this kind of criticism. However, this is not the first time that Mr. DeSilva has attempted to unjustly find fault with our organisation. Back in 2011 Mr. DeSilva, who was then Health Minister, criticised BEST on the floor of Parliament for NOT speaking up when there was major construction at the Reefs hotel. We don’t mind legitimate criticism, but BEST wasn’t even in existence when the application for the Reefs development was in process. We wrote to the Speaker of the House Stanley Lowe asking Minister DeSilva and other MPs be admonished not to speak falsely when referring to BEST —that’s on record.
But what is difficult to understand is that this individual was in the past complaining, albeit falsely, because BEST DIDN’T speak up. Now he is complaining because we DID speak up.
When the same individual criticises us for both speaking AND not speaking it raises the question of motives. We don’t presume to know why Mr. DeSilva would attempt to criticise BEST for speaking up and for not speaking up, but the public will no doubt remember that it was BEST that blew the whistle on Mr. DeSilva, who was then a Cabinet Minister, for breaking the Planning rules in his attempt to build three gigantic warehouses on Devonshire Marsh, an environmentally sensitive wetlands. It was the BEST’s exposure of that chicanery that led to Mr. DeSilva withdrawing the application, and to the resignation of another implicated Cabinet Minister.
But to the issue, BEST takes its role as an environmental watchdog very seriously. We would be failing the public if we did not alert them to a development project that plans to cover a green area surrounding a major hotel with 130 housing units.
BEST commends new Planning Minister
19 December 2013
BEST would like to commend newly appointed Minister Fahy and the Department of Planning for the decision to no longer accept incomplete or inaccurate applications for development. Far too often developers or their agents have provided insufficient or misleading information. In some cases it is easy to believe this has been done deliberately with the result that an application gets turned down, which then opens the process to an appeal wherein a Minister has the discretion to allow the development on an application even though it is flawed or otherwise inadequate.
While we are wholly supportive of the government’s intent to improve efficiency and turn-around time, we remain cautious that streamlining the process does not include bypassing important safeguards currently built in to application procedures. As Bermuda becomes more densely populated and developed, the pressures on planners and policy-makers will increase. We will need Ministers to have stronger resolve to resist pure expediency and uphold the regulations that have helped Bermuda retain its attractiveness to tourists and its environmental health for locals. As an ingredient of that resolve, we look forward to greater enforcement of Planning regulations.
Fairmont Southampton Princess
Implementation of the 2009 Special Development Order begins - but should tourism properties be replaced by real estate deals?
The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) has just become aware of development planned for the undeveloped space on the Fairmont Southampton Princess (FSP) property. FSP has permission, granted by a Special Development Order (SDO) in 2009, to build 130 residential units. Of that total, 71 are fractional units for tourists and 37 are residential villas for sale to non-Bermudians, these ranging from two-bedrooms to four-bedrooms in size and two- to three-storeys in height. The remaining 22 units are two-bedroom “town homes” for Bermudians.
While the application submitted so far is for Phase 1, a mere (3) three-bedroom villas, the public should be aware that segments of the now mostly-green hillsides and landscape surrounding FSP are eventually going to be transformed from green and open space to the concrete and tarmac of housing developments. It is also an indication that, like Tucker’s Point, FSP is morphing from a tourist facility into a real estate agency and is selling off its property.
On behalf of the Bermuda public, our government has entrusted hotel outfits with amenity open space, much of it with protective zoning. That open space has a value and benefit to all Bermudians, ranging from amenity space that is attractive and comforting to all residents — whether they be visitors or locals — to recreational- and even agricultural-use land.
This particular SDO was granted before the law was changed to require debate and approval in Parliament, so there was no public involvement, consultation or discussion. That means that another area we expected would remain mostly as green and open space is now to be covered with two- and three-storey buildings, including Turtle Hill, south of the hotel, north of the clubhouse and along South Road.
We must ask the Bermuda public if it is okay with them that tourism properties are being replaced by real estate deals. If it’s not okay, it’s time to make your voices heard via letters to Editors of the print and online newspapers, and by submitting an objection letter to the Department of Planning (see application by West End Properties # P0382/13 at Planning. Deadline is Friday 13 December).
Gaming Referendum - BEST would prefer a more neutral wording
Wednesday, December 4th 2013
The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) would prefer a more neutral wording for the referendum question on gambling.
We feel that the government may be making trouble for itself with the wording for the referendum on gambling. While the proposed referendum wording does achieve a technical goal of being just one question, that one question contains several parts that make a simple “yes” or “no” answer problematic. What if a person wishes to answer ‘yes’ to one part of the question and ‘no’ on another?
The question being put to the voting public is, “Do you favour the introduction of regulated casino gaming for the purposes of creating new jobs for Bermudians and encouraging hotel development?”
How does one answer that question if a) one supports UN-regulated casino gaming, or b) supports it for purposes OTHER than new jobs or hotel development? Or if one supports regulations, jobs and hotels but is opposed to casinos? And the framing of the question begs a further question: How secure in its position is the government if it has to load up the question in favour of a yes answer?
There are other issues that are not answered by the referendum but that the community still should have input into:
- How many casinos will be allowed?
- Are those casinos designated for new hotel development or for existing hotels?
- And who will choose which hotel(s) get a casino, based on what criteria?
- Who can gamble in the casino/s? Anyone or is it just for visitors?
- Who will be allowed to apply for a license?
- What are the proposed fees for a license – who benefits and how?
- Knowing in advance the social effects that will attend casino gambling, do we set-up social services in anticipation of these effects or wait for them to occur?
- What education will be provided to young people in our community to teach them about gambling?
- Assuming we will need a monitoring/oversight body, what form will it take?
- Will we need to beef up our corruption legislation?
It is likely that responses to the referendum question will be influenced by the status of these issues
The public should also have a clear understanding of what will happen next if there is a “Yes” or a “No” outcome. Is the issue dead, for example, if the majority public response to the referendum question is “no”?
From our reading on referenda being conducted elsewhere, perhaps the most neutral wording would be something like: “Should gambling be legalised in Bermuda?”
For more information on Gaming, see BEST's paper "The Gamble of Gaming" at http://www.best.org.bm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=403:position-paper-the-gamble-of-gaming&catid=25:papers-and-publications&Itemid=34
or Resources >Papers & Publications > Position Paper: The Gamble of Gaming
Monthly Bulletin November 2013 PDF
Charity Reg. # 858
BULLETIN - November 2013
Tucker’s Point: BEST is waiting on a response to our appeals against the 4 subdivisions that BEST believed were subject to an EIA. Should our appeals be refused, BEST is considering requesting a Judicial Review. However, though BEST has been 100% successful in the past in regard to Judicial Reviews, it is a costly undertaking (minimum of $20,000) and BEST would be looking for support before taking on legal action.
Southlands/South Beaches: At the time of going to press last month, a couple of names were missed from the thank you list, so would take this opportunity to give heartfelt thanks to Michelle Christensen, the SPCA, and entertainers “The Three Kings”.
Bees: The Buzz Group is meeting regularly and collecting a lot of information on bees! Ultimate goals – to expand public awareness of the bee situation in Bermuda and produce a Bee Friendly leaflet to encourage bee friendly gardening practices.
. Will information on the pros and cons of gaming be available to the general public so an informed decision can be made? The article in Bernews -http://bernews.com/2013/11/government-to-table-gaming-referendum-act/ - gives glowing reports on the advantages of casino gambling, suggesting that it will be a “game changer” for Bermuda. The disadvantages should also be clearly spelled out. For balance, check out “The Gamble of Gaming” on the BEST website at HYPERLINK "http://www.best.org.bm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=403:position-paper-the-gamble-of-gaming&catid=25:papers-and-publications&Itemid=34" http://www.best.org.bm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=403:position-paper-the-gamble-of-gaming&catid=25:papers-and-publications&Itemid=34
Bernews reported that International Agricultural Economist Dr. Ann Gordon was in Bermuda to gather information for the creation of a report which will map the way forward for the advancement of Bermuda’s agriculture. Important and necessary project. Do hope they took note of the work done by Aran McKittrick report published November 2010, to which BEST provided support and oversight. Prior to publication, researcher and author Aran McKittrick engaged relevant government agencies and stakeholders. Report available on the BEST website at HYPERLINK "http://best.org.bm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=267:the-role-of-agriculture-in-bermudas-future&catid=25:papers-and-publications&Itemid=34" http://best.org.bm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=267:the-role-of-agriculture-in-bermudas-future&catid=25:papers-and-publications&Itemid=34
The extent of development at the Botanical Gardens, highlighted recently in the Royal Gazette, underlines the need for much greater detail when planning applications are posted in the media. (details at HYPERLINK "https://www.facebook.com/BEST.Bda?ref=hl" https://www.facebook.com/BEST.Bda?ref=hl or HYPERLINK "http://www.best.org.bm" www.best.org.bm) At present, a minimum of information is given, often leaving the reader with no indication of scope or scale of development. BEST staff and volunteers spend much time, energy and money on scrutinizing planning applications. There is also concern about the manner in which, and the degree to which, information regarding objections and the results of said objections are shared with interested parties. This is just one of a number of process issues that we will address in an end-of-year submission we have schedule to go to the Department of Planning.
Our friends at Ocean Explorers will be launching a fun face book poll next week with the purpose of getting feedback on ocean related events, activities and programs. You’re invited to participate. HYPERLINK "https://www.facebook.com/bermudaoceanexplorers" https://www.facebook.com/bermudaoceanexplorers
And, if you are not on facebook, check out the Ocean Explorers work at their web page HYPERLINK "http://www.bermudaoceanexplorers.org" www.bermudaoceanexplorers.org
Bermuda Protected Marine Area: There is a real need for more information and dialogue on the EEZ, (that is the Exclusive Economic Zone not the Economic Empowerment Zone as incorrectly stated in last month’s bulletin) but time is short, as decisions must be made by early next year.
We were sorry to lose Jeanie Flath, our former Volunteer Coordinator, and wish her all the best in her future plans.
Congratulations to Alaina Cubbon, BEST Volunteer of the Year! Alaina’s research skills are unparalleled! Many thanks for all her time and hard work!
Many thanks to all of our friends and supporters for their encouragement and varied contributions. Donations to BEST can be made online through the BEST website HYPERLINK "http://www.best.org.bm" www.best.org.bm or by direct deposit to our Bank of Butterfield account, number 20-006-060-625713-100.
HYPERLINK "http://www.best.org.bm" www.best.org.bm
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