Canaan/Bon Accord residents affected by airport expansion Cry for help

Prop­er­ty own­ers af­fect­ed by the 53-acre ANR Robin­son In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port project will be pau­pers by No­vem­ber and not even the Gov­ern­ment or the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly (THA) can help.

Gov­ern­ment said the project will be­gin in No­vem­ber.

Rhon­da Hack­ett, chair­man of the Pro­vide Equiv­a­lent Eq­ui­table Com­pen­sa­tion for Every­one (PEECE) Move­ment said res­i­dents are not against the project, they sim­ply want to know how and when they will be re­lo­cat­ed and com­pen­sat­ed.

Hack­ett, who is not now af­fect­ed as the acreage re­quired for the air­port has de­creased from just over 80 acres to 53, re­mains at the helm of the PEECE Move­ment as fam­i­ly mem­bers and neigh­bours are af­fect­ed. "I won't just walk away," she said.

While the vast ma­jor­i­ty of af­fect­ed prop­er­ty own­ers have clear ti­tle to their lands and will be com­pen­sat­ed oth­ers do not, she said.

In the first in­stance, the lands are on their an­ces­tors' names, and while many have be­gun to ad­min­is­trate for the prop­er­ties, they do not know how long it will take.

In the oth­er case, peo­ple who were first ear­marked for re­lo­ca­tion were told in 2010 that the ex­pan­sion plan had changed and they could con­tin­ue to oc­cu­py and build hous­es.

In 1996 they were of­fered $4 per square foot for their lands, classed as agri­cul­tur­al.

"They are in a tech­ni­cal po­si­tion as al­though there was a bill­board show­ing they were in the ex­pan­sion zone, a sub­se­quent meet­ing held by the Gov­ern­ment in 2010 in­formed them that their lands were no longer need­ed," Hack­ett said.

Based on that in­for­ma­tion, res­i­dent Wolvin Lovell got Town and Coun­try Plan­ning ap­proval and put up two prop­er­ties from which he can earn an in­come.

"Now I am be­ing of­fered $50 per square foot for my lands be­cause it is classed un­der agri­cul­ture, while lands in the area are be­ing priced at $250 per square foot." He is not sure if he will be in the same eco­nom­ic po­si­tion when he is com­pen­sat­ed.

Ad­di­tion­al­ly, two oth­er groups of peo­ple con­tin­ue to oc­cu­py the lands.

"Those are squat­ters who have been oc­cu­py­ing the lands for a while.

They are in the one per cent cat­e­go­ry," Hack­ett said.

And some still re­main on the lands al­though the Gov­ern­ment paid their par­ents $4 per square foot in 1996.

How­ev­er, they are just a few, To­ba­go To­day un­der­stands.

THA re­sponds to prop­er­ty own­ers is­sues

Weigh­ing in on the is­sue, Chief Sec­re­tary of the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly Kelvin Charles said the THA can ex­am­ine how it can help the res­i­dents whose par­ents were al­ready paid for the lands. He stopped short of giv­ing any guar­an­tees that the As­sem­bly will be able to help.

He said in the case where the prop­er­ty own­ers were oc­cu­py­ing lands that were not in their names, the THA has to fol­low the law and is­sue cheques in the names of the de­ceased rel­a­tives.

"The le­gal po­si­tion will be that what­ev­er le­gal com­pen­sa­tion to be pro­vid­ed will be put in es­crow.

We have to fol­low the law and pay, and the es­tate will then have the op­por­tu­ni­ty to go and ad­min­is­trate for the lands."

He is ad­vis­ing those af­fect­ed res­i­dents to "hur­ry up" with the process of ad­min­is­tra­tion.

"The ball is in their court to re­solve this mat­ter now be­fore it is too late," the Chief Sec­re­tary said.

Charles re­it­er­at­ed the THA's po­si­tion of help­ing the prop­er­ty own­ers.

"It's a pol­i­cy po­si­tion that we will give fair com­pen­sa­tion, in­clud­ing land if so de­sired, but we can­not do more than that."

Reporter:  Camille McEach­nie

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