Executive Director of the BVI Recreational Trust, Stephen Payne said some shelter residents are choosing to remain at the Multipurpose Sports Complex in Road Town even though they can find accommodations elsewhere.
Payne now wants authorities to commit to the dates set to close the shelter.
Several closing dates were set since the shelter opened last September but authorities have not committed to any.
The facility was never meant to be a shelter but, due to the severe damage to designated shelters after Hurricane Irma, the complex was opened to the public for one month.
Now, almost five months later, 21 persons including infants and senior citizens are still housed at the complex.
“The last date that was set was two Fridays ago, but dates were set but not enforced,” Payne told BVI News on Friday.
Shelter occupants content
The Executive Director said shelter residents appear to be content living at the facility.
“Some people here can go back to their homes but, for some reason, they chose not to,” he said.
“They are not paying water or light bill, you still have people (authorities) bringing clothes and food. So there is no real need [for occupants] to leave,” Payne said.
BVI News was made to understand that out of the remaining residents still living at the facility, a large percentage is expatriate workers.
It is also understood that they were living in rented homes which got destroyed and many landlords are either waiting for insurance payouts or are trying to rebuild out of pocket.
Facility now losing money
Payne said the complex is now losing revenue, but it is not only because the facility is being used as a shelter.
He explained that government is allocating money to areas that are priority, and he believes that no funds will be allocated to repairing the facility anytime soon.
Payne estimates that a combined total of $30 million will be needed to restore all local sporting facilities that sustained damage during last year’s hurricanes.
The executive director is now dreading the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season that officially begins on June 1.
He said various sections of the complex still needs repairs and he fears the facility could sustain further damage if it isn’t fixed before another hurricane hits.
Gaping holes in roof
Payne noted that two sections of the facility’s roof were considerably damaged during the hurricanes last year.
Presently, tarps are covering the large gaping holes in the roof.
Payne told BVI News that when it rains, water seeps through and causes damage to the wooden flooring of the basketball court. The water also settles inside the facility and causes mosquito breeding, Payne added.
“The building is not resilient enough,” he lamented.
Payne, who has been Executive Director of the Recreational Trust for a few years, claimed that the longer the residents remain, the longer the facility will be affected by weather.
The BVI Recreation Trust is a statutory body which falls under the Ministry of Education and Culture.
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