Compelled to push for change and the acceptance of “change more easily”, Public Works Minister Lieutenant Colonel David Burch told MPs that solar power generation at the Royal Naval Dockyard will produce over 500 KW and reduce consumption.

In a Ministerial Statement delivered in the House on Friday, Colonel Burch said that solar production by Wedco will reduce “Belco consumption by more than $25,000 per month”.

“The system is already partially on line. Next week we intend commissioning another large section of production and the final connection to power the Waste Water Treatment Plant will be on line within the next 30 days, he said.

“Included within the project Wedco intends to set up live displays showcasing the system and real time data of the energy that is being produced.”

The ongoing changes taking place in the transformation of the Royal Naval Dockyard includes “sustainable growth, cruise ship port enhancements, the development of an artisan industry, growing retail businesses, and repurposing historical assets to accommodate modern expectations for “Bermuda’s largest tourism point of entry”.

“In an era where it is so easy to publicize negative messages, even if they are untrue, I am compelled to highlight some positive and factual information in the hope it will become contagious and we can learn to accept change more easily,” said Minister David Burch.

“I know some will declare that as ‘Mission Impossible’ – but I must try.

“There is no question that the former Royal Naval Dockyard has been transformed and continues to be,” he said.

“The North Basin has become one of Bermuda’s primary destinations for shopping, entertainment, dining, showcasing Bermudian artisans as well as displaying history and historical buildings.

“Dockyard is Bermuda’s largest tourism point of entry which fuels and supports commerce to every point around our Island.

“Servicing visitor expectations includes facilitating their transportation so that they are able to see our entire island and support local businesses island wide.

“Dockyard has been transformed from that military base of yesteryear into a vibrant destination with distinct characteristics: It is a tourist destination, it is a cruise ship port, and it is home to many Bermudians who wish to live, work and play there.”

The Minister also noted that “there are very few remaining derelict historical buildings which have not been upgraded”.

“In fact the only remaining area within the North Basin is the Victualling Yard.”

With steady growth over the past 15 years, he said total occupancy has gone from 60 percent back then then to over 90 percent.

“The fact is that currently there is 100 percent occupancy of all wind and water tight buildings,” said Colonel Burch.

“For more than a decade the data shows revenue increases every year, in every business sector from as little as 3 percent to increases in excess of 10 percent annually.

“In April this year saw a record month-over-month collective sales increase of an incredible 20 percent.

“I also have to make the point that this growth trend started before the addition of a second cruise pier, before the advent of larger cruise ships and certainly before the America’s Cup,” he added.

He also commended the management and staff of Wedco, the business owners and entrepreneurs who have “worked together to write such an ongoing success story”. And he was confident “this will continue as long as we are willing to be receptive to change, continue to listen, continue to offer suggestions and where necessary make modifications”.

But he was quick to note that the “the required changes are not seen by everyone nor are they supported by everyone”.

“Typically those that are in opposition do so because of a propensity for negativity, being afraid of change or because they are happy with the status quo. I wish to encourage those in a position to make a difference to continue and not to be afraid of change,” said Col Burch.

“Continue to push forward knowing that growth will require change and success is managing the challenges while executing the changes and adjusting them when necessary for an even better outcome.”

Recent changes include:

  • Single lane roads becoming dual lane roads
  • Adding an extra lane to bridges
  • Widening the main gates to accept two lane traffic
  • Creation of parking lots
  • Addition of a playground
  • Road modifications for larger vehicles to travel safely
  • New deep water cruise port
  • North lawn stage to host public events
  • Free shuttle train
  • No unauthorized vehicular traffic on the North arm
  • Staging area for Port Transportation requirements
  • New parking areas created
  • Designated tenant/staff parking areas and
  • Pedestrianisation

With ongoing strategic planning, a number of major infrastructure projects will be facilitated moving forward.

“In addition to growing infrastructure, the corporation continues to develop projects and programs that look at ways to reduce costs and lead the way in green initiatives,” said the Minister.

Ongoing changes to “enhance the experience and enable further growth” include:

  • Creation of a fun space within the Pedestrianisation area
  • Additional parking areas, some free, some paid
  • Creating new retail and entertainment spaces by relocating existing tenants
  • Day time boat berthing – some free, some paid

The Minister also addressed “the most recent concern expressed by some” on “the public bus termination point” in Dockyard.

While noting that the decision was not taken lightly, he said: “Several factors were considered – including those who would have difficulty walking that distance.”

Both the public and visitors alike, “have the option to use the free shuttle service to move around the site”.

But he said: “I would encourage folk to walk.

“Dockyard is not an enormous site, exercise is good and one might even see something previously unnoticed.

“Additionally, I can report that not unexpectedly – the merchants in both the Clock Tower Mall and elsewhere have enjoyed increased sales since this change.”