Team Gibbs 2017: a program for the people of Saint Martin

Daniel Gibbs is playing the proximity and is surrounded by people of Saint Martin to develop his program.

During the 2012 election campaign, Daniel Gibbs had been criticized of selling Saint Martin to foreigners, specifically to Canadians who had come to present their project of development on the waterfront of Marigot Bay. He had also been labeled as a metropolitan candidate. Also, there was no unanimity from the people of Saint Martin.

Five years later, change in strategy. Daniel Gibbs is playing for the people of Saint Martin. He is surrounded by people known for their involvement in the protection of the territory and the identity of the people of Saint Martin. Among them are Steven Patrick and Sofia Carti who had participated in the roadblocks of 22 October 2015. Steven Patrick, representative of the District Council number one, was also strongly mobilized with the roadblocks of Orient Bay in March 2016.

♦ Encourage the hiring of the people of Saint Martin

During the presentation of his program to the press, Daniel Gibbs insisted on the importance he gives to the people of Saint Martin in the development of the territory. First when it comes to employment by emphasizing the willingness to "support local hiring”. "In the context of public procurement, we will require that a percentage of the people of Saint Martin in integration can be hired by selected companies," he said. But the measure he will highlight during the campaign will be "the tax benefit for businesses recruiting young people of Saint Martin”. "If it is not a key measure to create jobs...", he commented.

♦ Education

Another area where Daniel Gibbs wants to support the people of Saint Martin is education. "Education is too often synonymous with failure in Saint Martin", he stated. "Funds are needed to reverse this situation”. And to implement them, there is no doubt that the Team Gibbs 2017 relied on the experience of Annick Petrus, a schoolteacher and Director. One of the priorities will be to "promote multilingualism in kindergarten."

"When they arrive in kindergarten or elementary school, our children are confused by a teaching that is done only in French. To address the French learning issue, we wish that as soon as kindergarten (maternelle) and along with the first grade, the child has (as well as the school teacher), a native referent of the Saint Martin language. The latter would be recruited from a specific body of teachers. The creation of this body of local teachers would allow to recruit young graduates of Saint Martin, who as of today, cannot find employment on the island," explains the Team without giving more details. "Such a reform would give every child the opportunity to master both the English and the French," she stated.

The Team also wants to train teachers "coming to Saint Martin" to the local culture. "Through the independent community training center, in partnership with the School Board, we will offer training with the cultural and linguistics codes and practices of Saint Martin to any teacher coming to Saint-Martin”. It is also contemplated to launch “works for the making of a school textbook on the history of Saint Martin”. Without providing here, as well further, clarifications as to the implementation of these measures. Knowing that education is a competence of the State and not of the Collectivité.

♦ Back to the Land Use Plan (POS)

At the end of 2015, Daniel Gibbs had provided support to people who were mobilized against the development of the Local Urbanism Plan (PLU). It is no surprise that he announced that he would return to the Land Use Plan (POS), and will vote on a resolution to change the code of urbanism in this sense. Deliberation would even be already written.

♦ No more major tourism projects

Although in 2012, he was convinced that Saint Martin needed a large tourism project and the arrival of foreign investors to revive the economy on the French part, today Daniel Gibbs gives a different thought. "I was able to learn lessons from the past," he says. He thus prefers to talk about "tourism infrastructure" rather than "major projects".

"The development of tourism infrastructure in Marigot is our priority”, states the Team Gibbs 2017, which wants to create "The great Marigot", a project that will extend from Morne Valois to Bellevue. "This ambitious but necessary approach implies planning in particular the renovation of the Royal Marina, the increase of the capacity of the Fort Louis Marina, the development of a cruise terminal and a welcome terminal, the development of shipyards in Galisbay and to facilitate the establishment of hotels and accommodations in the city center". However, the Team does not specify to which extent the project will be less pretentious than those so far presented.

♦ Cooperation and Europe: topics barely addressed

During the presentation of his program to the media, the candidate has however barely addressed topics on which he used to speak of: cooperation with Sint Maarten or the position of Saint Martin in Europe.

Few have been in the past few years missed opportunities for Daniel Gibbs to argue about the need to wonder about the choice of the status of the Collectivité in Europe (UPR or OCT). As soon as he was given the opportunity, he was deliberating on the pros and cons to stay in the European perimeter. He also commissioned a Professor of law to reflect on the question.

During the last few years, he had also often defended his idea to implement the United Congress of Saint Martin, a cooperative body that could provide "a framework for joint exercise of skills in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten". But on Saturday, in front of the media, no word about this.

The involvement of Steven Patrick in the roadblocks of 22 October 2015

As a reminder, these demonstrations initiated by the Wake up Committee of Saint Martin and which had blocked access to Marigot, had intended to cancel the Local Urbanism Plan (PLU). The Committee had explained that this document was drafted by “the French administration”, however it is not up to the State to decide of land use and the planning, they feel. The Committee had managed to obtain from the Collectivité to have the procedure of implementation of the Local Urbanism Plan (PLU) in stand by. The members of the Committee were then satisfied and welcomed "the representatives of District Councils (in particular No. 1 and 2, editor’s note)”, making the collective of Wake up Saint Martin to their determination and to remind that democracy in Saint Martin goes through District Councils!




Estelle Gasnet
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