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The Bahamas: 5,000 Sign Petition To Demolish The Torii Gate


The Bahamas: 5,000 Sign Petition To Demolish The Torii Gate


A 5,000-signature petition for the demolition of a well-known Freeport landmark has been launched and has already exceeded 50 percent of its signature target.

The Torii Gate at the International Bazaar has been a distinguishable fixture in Freeport for many years, especially during the economic boom in Grand Bahama up to 2004.

A concerned group of residents is now calling for the removal of the bright red Torii Gate landmark – which even after many devastating hurricanes on GB continues to stand strong and tall. “The Torii Gate must come down! Grand Bahama’s spiritual and economic survival depends on it,” according to the online petition on Change.org.

A Torii Gate – which is affiliated with Japanese religious culture – is the symbolic gateway between the spirit realm and the human world in Japan. They are part of the Shinto religion – one of the two main religious beliefs in Japan alongside Buddhism – and you will find a Torii gate at the entrance to Shinto shrines.

In 2004, following hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, Freeport went into an economic downturn, with the closure of Royal Oasis Resort due to severe hurricane damage. This affected the nearby Bazaar, and the many merchants at the once-popular shopping attraction were forced to shut their stores.

Despite incentives and initiatives to attract the opening of new businesses at the Bazaar, it has never been able to bounce back and has fallen into a state of disrepair. The buildings are dilapidated and have fallen apart.

This week, the group, Ignite Grand Bahama, launched an online petition, ‘Demolish the Torii Gate From The International Bazaar,’ to the Grand Bahama Port Authority.

Of the 5,000 signatures that are being requested, about 3090 signatures were collected and polled as of August 12 online at Change.org.

Prior to the petition, a young business woman had expressed concerns over the landmark on Facebook saying it was against The Bahamas’ religious belief of Christianity and called for the removal of the Torii gate. She believes that it is prohibiting Grand Bahama’s economic prosperity. A local pastor also followed suit on social media in support of its removal.

The petition stated: “We are a Christian nation and we no longer want to be slaves to another culture that is not relevant to the growth and sustainability of Grand Bahama. We know that this gate does not represent who we are! It is time to take our future back from the ones that snatched it from us! The Torii Gate must come down! Grand Bahama spiritual and economic survival depends on it.”

Troy McIntosh, deputy director, and city manager at Grand Bahama Port Authority, said he was not aware of such a petition.

He said the Bazaar is owned by many private owners.

“The bazaar is owned by multiple owners, and so, it should be addressed to those owners. It is a private entity that is managed by an association,” he said.

Mr McIntosh noted that there are protocols that must be followed concerning complaints regarding dilapidated buildings and properties in Freeport.

He said that dilapidated buildings have been an ongoing issue in Freeport.

“There is a component in the bylaws that we are governed by that states that buildings must be structurally unsound. If it is determined by an independent structural engineer that it is structurally sound, we cannot touch it,” he explained.

Mr McIntosh stated that the GBPA would have issued environmental bylaws and are waiting for it to be approved by the government. “That gives us a little more teeth,” he said. And what we have done is partnered with the government. There is an Environmental Task Force that has been able to address some serious matters in Nassau. And so, they came to Freeport, and we are looking at some matters with them to see if we can address some derelict building matters with them to see how we can accelerate issues within the city of Freeport,” he said.


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