Member of Parliament for Gros Islet Kenson Casimir has addressed the matter relating to noise pollution in the Rodney Bay community.
Residents from the area and its environs have of late have been expressing their displeasure with the blaring of loud music at the night clubs in this popular northern entertainment hub.
Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, Casimir said the authorities initiated dialogue with the Attorney General’s (AG) office for broader clarification on this issue.
He disclosed that the AG’s chambers have been tasked with drafting a legislation to deal with the noise pollution problem.
“What we found is that there is a gap between what obtained before and what is in our legalisation (presently),” Casimir told reporters.
“And so, the only way we could deal with the noise pollution is (to) have a decibel level that is objectively measured, which gives the private business owners something to gauge when they are plying their trade,” he added.
“So, the AG chambers have presented a draft on how it is that we can deal with that situation,” noted Casimir, “And that situation is not just for Rodney Bay, but for all of Saint Lucia, including Cap Estate, Bonne Terre and other residents in Saint Lucia.
In light of the complaints from the residents, the Gros Islet MP says, he is pleased with the current level of discussions taking place about noise pollution.
“What we plan to do, moving forward, is to engage these stakeholders again – the police, the residents, the business owners and …me as the MP to look at what is suggested (proposed) in terms of decibel levels for the areas that we speak of and see how we can reach some form of a compromise,” he explained.
Noting the context and complexity of this issue, Casimir stated: “Everybody will not be happy …and it will be impossible, considering that we have residents (living), right next to small businesses. So, we are hoping that very soon we have this (noise abatement) issue on the table for national discussion and new laws (regulation).”
In their complaints, the residents also referred to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The UN/ECLAC report, which was released in 2003, underlines the “Planning Standards for the Rodney Bay area”, and predominantly provides a comprehensive detail among other matters about noise pollution, and to have residents and business establishments dwell in unison.
Casimir admitted that the UN/ECLAC report will feature prominently in the regulations, moving forward. “The AG’s chambers would have looked at precedents in different islands and they would look at what has happened, in terms of modern technology,” he explained.
Nonetheless, the parliamentary representative expressed his reservations on the issue relating to the enclosure of these entertainment spots.
“I don’t think that is fair to just decide (recommend) to a business to be enclosed,” said Casimir. “I think this is the sort of discussions that must be ongoing between the business, to ascertain what exactly the product is, and how it is that their product can then be augmented to be more sensitive to residents. It is not a situation where one set of individuals will be requested to just comply with something, but it is something that we will try our best to go (meet) halfway.”
Ultimately, the Gros Islet MP asserted, “We are looking at whether or not we provide concessions or tax relief, or someway to …encourage businesses to enclose their operations.”
He said, this procedure could entail providing tax concessions on building materials, for persons that so choose to enclose their businesses.
Another issue of contention by the residents pertains to the apparent use of ‘derogatory language’ used by some of the Dee Jays at these night clubs, which the residents claim, borders on profanity and injudicious to young children in the area.
Casimir noted that the authorities have attempted to appeal to the business owners, through “moral persuasion to ensure that they do what’s right.”
He explained that there are statues of law in the land, which deals with that subject matter, “and if it means that we have to make slight adjustments to that as well, we can definitely look at it.”
Notably, states Casimir, there was no discussions between the stakeholders and the former parliamentary representative for the constituency, on that issue.
“So, we pretty much have to start from scratch …and I can say right now that we are very close to reaching the ‘Promised Land’ as it pertains to noise pollution in Saint Lucia.”