Land distribution on the now uninhabited Salt Island is set to commence in short order, now that the long-awaited Salt Island Lands Advisory Committee (SILAC) has been formed.
This was announced by Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon. Vincent Wheatley through a press release issued today, January 14.
He informed that the SILAC will assist his ministry in ensuring the fair distribution of Crown Lands on Salt Island to its descendants.
“The role of the committee is to work in collaboration with the ministry and the appropriate experts to develop recommendations for a Land Use and Development Master Plan for the island, that takes into account the preservation of salt ponds and other natural resources, ancestral and historic burial grounds, cultural traditions like “Pond Breaking”, historical names, buildings and sites, and much more.”
The committee now consists of 10 descendants from the island, two per family.
They are Mr. Wallace Leonard and Mr. Paul Leonard; Ms. Lydia Durante and Mr. Sean Durrant of the Smith Family; Mr. Roosevelt Smith and Mr. Arnold C. Smith from the Abbott family; Dr. Charles Wheatley OBE and Mr. Melvin Stoutt of the Thomas family; Ms. LilyMae Durante and Mrs. Luce Hodge-Smith of the Durante family.
Now that the committee is formed, he said there will be strict stipulations put in place to ensure that the lands on the island remain within these families for generations to come.
In the meantime, the release stated that on May 30, 1990, the Executive Council via Memo No. 131 of 90, advised that Crown Land be given to all persons whose houses are built on Salt Island and that similar provision be made for native descendants of Salt Island to be granted a title. The Executive Council further advised at the time of the need to preserve the Salt Pond and the “Rhone” cemetery on the island.
Over the years, there have been applications submitted to the ministry requesting ownership of land on Salt Island. The committee’s main function will be to address the applications and oversee the land distribution initiative.