Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Canadian Tycoon Clashes With Environmentalists in the Bahamas

Canadian Tycoon Clashes With Environmentalists in the Bahamas

Canadian womenswear mogul Peter Nygård never seems to be more than an arm's length away from controversy.

According to a 2010 Forbes article, Nygård has been accused of abusive labor practices, tax evasion, sexual harassment and rape. (He has also been called the Hugh Hefner of Canada). Punching back hard, he has sued his accusers and intimidated his critics with a small army of lawyers. “No one has ever disobeyed my orders and gotten away with it!" he once raged, according to the testimony of a former business partner.

The unpermitted growth of Nygard's property over the years. Photo credit: Save The Bays

Environmentalists say those who obey his orders include government officials in the Bahamas, where Nygård has been building a massive estate since the mid '80s. Forbes described his resort as "a 150,000-square-foot Mayan-style resort featuring 12 themed cabanas, volcanic smoking temples, a helipad, disco, casino and a human aquarium (with sharks on one side of the glass)" where he "has hosted the likes of Robert De Niro, Oprah, Michael Jackson, Prince Andrew and George H.W. Bush," as well as his one-time girlfriend Anna Nicole Smith.

Environmentalists, unimpressed by the fact that it's been featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, describe it as a threat to the delicate and world-renowned ecology of the islands as well as to the public's ability to enjoy the beaches that attract visitors.

Nygård's appropriation of oceanfront to expand his resort and his disregard of legal process and environmental protections to do so has been challenged by the rapidly growing Bahamas-based grassroots environmental group, Save The Bays, founded last year. That group has been embroiled in a series of legal measures to prevent the uncontrolled expansion on the peninsula he renamed Nygård Cay. That includes dredging and construction of artificial structures in the ocean—a threat to the marine habitat including delicate coral reef ecosystems.

"Over the last 20 years Peter Nygård has illegally expanded his property at Simms Point to nearly twice its original size," charges Save the Bays. "Finally the government has required him to apply for permits for the work he's done to claim $35 million worth of crown land, the same work that has already caused environmental destruction to Clifton Bay and Jaws Beach. He's also applied to keep going, expanding his land further into the seabed, which belongs to the Bahamian people."

To Canadian designer Peter Nygard, coral reefs take a backseat to his expansion plans. Photo credit: The Nature Conservancy

Following a recent visit by environmentalists to the island, Sharon Khan, international director of Waterkeeper Alliance, noted the impact the unauthorized work at Nygård Cay was having on a nearby beach.

"Jaws Beach is one of the last beaches that remains open to the public on this island and we remain concerned that poorly planned and unpermitted developments are decreasing the ability of Bahamian people and their guests to enjoy this famous beach and its clear blue water," she said.

Last week, the Bahamas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Save The Bays, issuing an injunction to halt a public consultation process. Save The Bays had been issued an injunction in July to halt the process, saying that critical information had not been made available, causing the process to be fatally flawed. Save The Bays argued that the Bahamas government had breached the injunction by circulating new consultation notices anyway.

The group was also granted judicial review of the government's failure to develop a land use plan required by the country's 2011 Planning and Subdivision Act.

It's merely the latest skirmish in a long war, which also includes charges and countercharges between Nygård and his neighborhood, billionaire hedge fund manager conservationist Louis Bacon. Naturally, they're suing each other.

Bacon, who supports the conservation efforts of Save The Bays and has won awards from groups like Riverkeeper, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and National Audubon Society, is claiming in a New York court that Nygård has engaged in a smear campaign against him. The New York application relates to evidence from a whistle-blower which is said to support Bacon's defamation suits and Save The Bays' action against Nygård concerning environmental destruction.‎

The Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan, experienced some of their warmest temperatures on record in the summer of 2020. Ken Ilio / Moment / Getty Images

Heatwaves are not just distinct to the land. A recent study found lakes are susceptible to temperature rise too, causing "lake heatwaves," The Independent reported.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Starfish might appear simple creatures, but the way these animals' distinctive biology evolved was, until recently, unknown. FangXiaNuo / Getty Images

By Aaron W Hunter

A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.

Read More Show Less

Trending

U.S. President Joe Biden sits in the Oval Office as he signs a series of orders at the White House in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2021. Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

President Joe Biden officially took office Wednesday, and immediately set to work reversing some of former President Donald Trump's environmental policies.

Read More Show Less
Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

In many schools, the study of climate change is limited to the science. But at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, students in one class also learn how to take climate action.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Daniel Raichel

Industry would have us believe that pesticides help sustain food production — a necessary chemical trade-off for keeping harmful bugs at bay and ensuring we have enough to eat. But the data often tell a different story—particularly in the case of neonicotinoid pesticides, also known as neonics.

Read More Show Less