By Shermain Bique-Charles
The president of the Peace Love and Happiness (PLH) development is optimistic that the Barbuda Council will put aside its differences and work with the company.
According to Justin Wilshaw, this is the only way that he believes that Barbuda and its residents can reap the full benefit of the project.
Barbuda has been a major topic of discussion this year as the council continues to raise environmental issues prompted by the PLH development.
“We are not political but the one message I would say to the council is to please tell us your plan because we are a little bit lost as to where they would want to go forward. We do have a plan,” he said.
Wilshaw said PLH has made several offers to the Barbuda Council but he said no word has been forthcoming.
“We have a project plan, but I would love to tie that in to what exactly they want to do. I have made two offers to them this year alone. One was to go back to their palm farm and restore it; no one came back. While there are degrees of frustration, I understand they need time,” he explained.
Wilshaw added that while the council continues to delay communicating with PLH, the residents are embracing the business opportunities provided by the project.
“We are now working with 10 businesses, so I believe that with the council, they will come on board in time. I know there will always be a point of difference but we should be working together,” he said.
Meanwhile, where the project is concerned, Wilshaw said PLH will need more people to facilitate the doubling of activities in 2021.
“The key is to have skilled people as much as possible…We need to make sure this is locally managed and locally run,” he claimed.
It is predicted that the company could spend in excess of US $200 million in 2021 to develop Barbuda.
“For the next 10 or 12 years it will be heavy investments but after that it’s an investment into the ongoing, upkeep and maintenance of the facility. We need people to come back and live in Barbuda. We need to start seeing people benefit from this project but not only at work but in their home and in their lives,” Wilshaw added.
The Barbuda Council said the planned luxury resort co-owned by the billionaire philanthropist John Paul DeJoria could destroy the islanders’ way of life.
Locals, who are citizens of the sovereign nation of Antigua and Barbuda, are also raising concerns that the resort is playing a role in upending the island’s collective land ownership system, which has been in place since slavery was abolished.