The newly created Salt Island Lands Advisory Committee (SILAC) is expected to assist the Ministry of Natural Resources 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 Minister of Natural Resources, Vincent Wheatley said.
Wheatley added that the committee will be composed of two representatives from the five descendant families of Salt Island. He added that there will also be strict stipulations put in place to ensure that the lands on the island remain within these families for generations to come.
The Salt Island Lands Advisory Committee include Wallace Leonard and Paul Leonard; Lydia Durante and Sean Durrant of the Smith Family; Roosevelt Smith and Arnold C. Smith from the Abbott family; Charles Wheatley OBE and Melvin Stoutt of the Thomas family; LilyMae Durante and Luce Hodge-Smith of the Durante family.
Back in May 1990, the Executive Council — now the House of Assembly — had 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 titles.
The Executive Council had also advised 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.
Salt Island is one of the islands of the archipelago of the British Virgin Islands located about 4.7 miles southeast of Road Town. It is named after its salt ponds, which were once an important natural resource.
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