STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE MELVIN M. TURNBULL
MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES AND LABOUR
FOURTH SITTING OF THE FIFTH SESSION
THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
9TH MARCH 2023
TRANSFER OF LANDS TO THE H. LAVITY STOUTT COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Good day Madam Speaker. Having just observed the Hamilton Lavity Stoutt Holiday, I am keen on addressing the following issue in today’s sitting. The H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (or HLSCC), named in honour of one of our greatest visionaries, has granted BVI residents access to tertiary-level education since 1990. Over the past three (3) decades, the institution has experienced significant growth, expanding to offer Associates degrees in as many as 23 subject areas and 21 different professional certifications. The college provides student life enrichment, a performing arts venue, Virgin Islands Studies, and access to Baccalaureate and Master’s degree programs through collaboration with universities abroad. HLSCC has proven to be the ultimate start to a secure future for countless BVIslanders, residents, as well as international students. I am personally very proud of the vision, which has been seen to fruition in this institution and for that, I must do my due diligence by giving to HLSCC what is due.
In 2019 a Cabinet decision was made to enable the college to expand its operations to further develop our people through additional infrastructural development. The decision was to officially transfer a total of 134 acres of land to the Board of Governors of HLSCC. These included Parcel 6, Block 3337B; Parcel 164 (which is now Parcel 169 due to interim developments), Block 3238B, and Parcel 7/1, Block 3337B. Madam
Speaker it has been brought to my attention that only 13 acres (from Parcels 6 and 7/1) have been transferred due to land swap agreements with the Department of Agriculture. Therefore, 121 acres remain in the Crown’s possession. The delay in finalizing this transfer of land is of great reproach, considering that the total of 134 acres was procured by the Government on behalf of the college from the previous landowners, in 2003. Yes, Madam Speaker, 20 years ago!
As the Minister responsible for lands, I wish to conclude this outstanding matter once and for all in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports. We have a duty to uphold the original agreement of transfer in the interest of the development of our people, and we need to do so in the shortest order.
Further to this, we have entered discussions with the college to obtain ownership of land in Virgin Gorda and hence the ability to build a fully outfitted permanent campus. For the past 30 years, the college has rented from Virgin Gorda commercial properties such as the Pickering Building and most recently Village Rose. The President and Board of Governors have put forth a vision for the college, which sees the Virgin Gorda Campus becoming a mecca for hospitality and culinary arts. Virgin Gorda being a prime destination for tourism, this development would garner interest from the community for much needed growth in the relevant industries.
Madam Speaker, again I commend the college for its outstanding achievements over the years and I encourage the relevant Ministries and stakeholders to partner with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, and the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College to secure this territory’s future. Madam Speaker I thank you.