(CMR) The Ministry of Investment, Innovation, and Social Development (MIISD) announced the provision of a substantial grant of $450,000 to the Church of God Chapel in West Bay, which is expected to serve as an emergency shelter in the West Bay community.
This funding provided by MIISD included $150,000 from the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure. It was made available due to the prudent use of capital budget savings in 2023 from both Ministries, a release issued on Thursday stated.
The grant will significantly contribute to the completion of the designated emergency shelter for the West Bay community.
Following structural damage caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the decision to rebuild was made possible through a combination of insurance proceeds, fundraising efforts, and support from a prior government more than a decade ago, reaching a commendable 60% completion.
The project, however, is still far from being realized and has languished while construction costs have risen over time. The new building, which spans 10,296 square feet, complemented by the existing hall at 4,118 square feet, is at a pivotal stage with walls erected, hurricane-grade windows installed, a front glass door in place, lobby lights installed, and the roof of the lobby successfully completed. However, it is still without a main roof.
The district of West Bay has grown considerably since the project began making the need for the building’s completion and the additional emergency shelter space it will provide more pressing.
Since 2007, the Church of God Chapel in West Bay has pledged to use the new building as an emergency shelter for hurricanes and other major disasters, as well as a community center where the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) can provide social programming for the residents of West Bay.
The church estimates that the new building, when operating as a shelter, can comfortably accommodate 200 people. The facility features four restrooms (including two in the adjoining Church hall) with seven toilets, two showers, a fully functional kitchen, and provisions for an on-site generator. A large cistern under the Church Hall ensures a reliable water supply.
Director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands, Dani Coleman explained the importance of this project.
“The completion of this project is crucial for West Bay, especially considering the limited availability of emergency shelters in the district, which currently only has capacity for 625 people. In times of heightened vulnerability during adverse weather events and other large-scale emergencies, the need for secure shelters cannot be overstated,” Coleman stated.
“Hazard Management, in consultation with Public Works, will be working with the Church to ensure the new emergency shelter is built in accordance with international shelter specifications,” he added.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Investment, Innovation and Social Development, Hon. André Ebanks, said, “This grant is a multi-purpose community investment. One that provides a meaningful contribution towards 1) an additional secure shelter in the district of West Bay, which currently has a severe shortage; 2) additional space for social programs; and 3) the beautification of the district. Furthermore, this community investment for public policy purposes should stimulate fundraising efforts by the Church to bring the project to fruition.”
“We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the Government for their invaluable support, bringing us closer to realizing our vision for a new building and reliable emergency shelter for the West Bay community,” expressed Pastor Stanwyck on behalf of the Church and the congregation.
The church aims to raise a total of CI$1 Million to finish the facility and supporting infrastructure.
Local organizations, businesses, and individuals who would like to support this project are asked to contact the Church of God Chapel in West Bay.