Veteran Educator Community Advocate Joe Darville PMs Promise of Land a 41Year

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#Bahamas, February 16, 2018 – Grand Bahama – Joe Darville remembers the first time he proposed that every Bahamian be granted a plot of Crown Land at age 18.  “It was 1977 and I had just moved to Freeport to take up my post as principal of Catholic High School,” said the veteran educator and respected community rights and environmental advocate.   “The Bahamas was barreling toward a drug-involved culture. Drugs were infiltrating every level of society and I was sick about what I saw ahead – poverty, neglect, delusion, corruption, a widening gap between the haves and have-nots, a disrespect for law and order.”But Darville, ever the faith-based optimist, also saw a solution.“Make Bahamians owners of their own land and they would look after their country,” he says.   “Sixty percent of all the land in The Bahamas is Crown Land and successive governments have been trading it for a song to lure foreign direct investment.  I am not opposed to foreign investment.  We are a small nation and we need people from abroad who have vision, ideas and the wherewithal to carry them out.   But we also need to make Bahamians owners and the only way to do it for many who will not be able to afford to buy land, especially when they are young, is to offer that land as a grant and see how becoming a landowner changes people, making them stronger, more confident, more responsible.  They feel as though they belong.”Crown Land grants for Bahamians was a plea at Darville repeated for four decades, through his years as a high school principal, vice president of the Bahamas Union of Teachers, founding member and past president of the Bahamas Counselors’ Association, founding member of the Grand Bahama YMCA, chairman of the Bahamas Humane Society, more recently chairman of Save The Bays.This week, Darville heard the words he had waited half a lifetime to hear.“When the Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that government would provide lots for under $30,000, a reduction of 70% of the market price, as part of its ambitious housing program and land reform initiatives, I wanted to jump up and shout congratulations.  This could be one of the most significant moves any government could ever make.  We do not know the details yet, how many lots, where they are, what size, any payment or loan arrangements so we await word on that but in principle, the move to make Crown Land available at reasonable rates to a broad base is a dramatic turn that will have tremendous positive benefits.”Darville offered two suggestions to maximize the initiative.“I would ask that the PM take into consideration the fact that even $30,000 may be out of reach for some and provide delayed payment plans or outright grants based on earning potential and individual interviews,” he said.   “I would also urge government to grant one-acre plots in the Family Islands to give recipients pride of ownership, open windows of opportunity and help revive our beautiful family islands.”The prime minister made the announcement this week during a tour of The Pointe development, Bay Street.“There are many Bahamians who want to own homes,” he said.  “Unfortunately, today, the average home may cost anywhere from $180,000 and up.  That is very cost prohibitive to the average Bahamian, and therefore we are introducing this program.  We would hope that we have lots available right after the new budget [in] May/June.  Those lots will be sold with all the infrastructure, amenities attached to it and be sold at a very, very low price.  The only thing I can say is that there’d be – I don’t want to give the exact cost – but to give you a ballpark figure, I can say they will be definitely be less than $30,000.”Darville, who has won numerous awards for civic leadership, said one of the important components of the promise of land ownership is duty exemption on construction materials for first time homeowners, predicting an economic boost for contractors.“But the most important outcome is that those who were once on the outside looking in will now feel a part of the mainstream,” he said.  “Home ownership changes how you view everything around you – your neighbours, your neighbourhood, the school in your area – they all become part of your world.  For those who have always lived behind the warm wall of wealth, it is hard to imagine how cold it is on the outside.  I commend Dr. Minnis and his team for taking this important step toward true land reform and hope that it is carried out especially in the Family Islands so young people can return to their roots and develop the land of their heritage and of their hearts.” Related Items:last_img

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