ROSEAU, Dominica — The Bellevue Chopin modern housing development project in Dominica has now entered an exciting stage where visitors and the intended residents can see real tangible progress being made, with new structures rising from the ground, and at last start to imagine that their dream of having a new permanent residence is taking on solid form.
Funded entirely through the efforts of Montreal Management Consultants Est. (MMCE), the 340-home Bellevue Chopin development, part of the Petite Savanne Resettlement Programme in Dominica, is a ground-breaking scheme to re-house residents displaced by Tropical Storm Erika in 2015 and represents a model for future housing and infrastructure projects in the country.
The project is being financed by Dominica’s citizenship by investment (CBI) programme and is likely to be the first in a series of new housing programmes announced by the Dominica government to be funded in this way.
Accessing funding can often be a barrier to commissioning new infrastructure, housing or civil engineering projects and CBI programmes are a reliable vehicle to secure commercial investment from the private sector for public sector projects.
At Bellevue Chopin, after the first few months of earth moving and reshaping the landscape to be able to accept homes in a manner sympathetic to the local environment, concrete construction has commenced at full pace.
In order to achieve this, a multinational workforce of both local and international contractors has been assembled, with plant and materials being shipped in from all over the world.
“The role of the various government departments cannot be underestimated in helping achieve the present momentum that the project Is now carrying and without the nonstop help and assistance from ministers, the permanent secretaries, and their senior staff in providing help and advice in dealing with the various challenges we would not be as far as we presently are,” said Dr Anthony Haiden, CEO of MMCE.
At this time of major change for the existing village of Bellevue Chopin, the current residents have been overwhelmingly supportive of the project and have welcomed the appearance of a large number of international tradesmen in their village with open arms and incredible patience as the nonstop daily convoy of building materials is delivered, along with the 18-hour working operation of the site.
To accommodate the numbers of workers required in order to achieve what is an extremely ambitious schedule, a temporary village has been created within the site, with a population rivalling that of the existing village, with perhaps what is now the busiest restaurant in the country, serving over 1,000 meals a day.
“Due to the efforts of all the contractors on site, both local and international, we have been in a position to bring changes to the intended handover sequence of the project and are now concentrating our resources on being able to hand over in excess of 200 new homes at the start of 2018 as opposed to the 155 originally proposed, along with a shopping and office complex, community centre, purpose-designed farmers market, multipurpose playing field incorporating a FIFA sized pitch and a new standalone basketball court,” said project manager Christopher Timmins.
Within the first release of new homes, there will be an entire spectrum of homes available, from two-bedroom condominiums to four-bedroom detached houses.
The remaining 140 homes will be completed for the end of June 2018; however, the initial completion will be sufficient to accommodate the vast majority of residents from Petite Savanne who were unfortunate to lose their homes as a result of Tropical Storm Erika.
“The project has not been without its challenges to date, especially with one of the wettest dry seasons on record this year and the rainy season so far living up to its name, meaning many a tradesman is going home at the end of the day somewhat wetter than when he woke up in the morning,” Timmins noted.
Other challenges to be overcome are the availability of building materials in the local market, along with the apparent insatiable demand for cement that seems to exist island-wide at the moment, which has required Argos to increase their boat deliveries to Dominica to meet the challenge.
“In order to achieve the aims of the project it will require a concerted effort from the contractors, suppliers, utility companies and an ability of the local construction industry professionals to be able to supply the required numbers of suitably qualified expert tradesmen to provide the level of workmanship and therefore the high quality of the buildings we intend to be able to provide to the future residents. We however have confidence that there is a willingness and desire by all involved to assist us in achieving the hopes and needs of the future residents,” Timmins said.