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Environmentalists target Nygard's Bahamas property

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Winnipeg fashion designer Peter Nygard found himself back in the headlines this week when a newly formed environmental group launched a public campaign against him for work he's allegedly done to reclaim beach around his multimillion-dollar home in the Bahamas.

The non-profit Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay and its lawyer, Frederick Smith, sent a flurry of letters to Bahamian officials, including Prime Minister Perry Christie, in an attempt to find out whether Nygard had permission to do the work.

The coalition alleges the area around Nygard's property at Lyford Cay has grown to 6.1 acres from 3.25 acres in 1984.

The coalition claims the remedial work Nygard has allegedly done will alter the movement of seawater and will have a negative impact on the seabed, surrounding land and natural habitat.

One of the coalition's backers is Nygard's neighbour, American billionaire Louis Bacon.

Nygard and Bacon, a hedge-fund manager, have been locked in a high-profile property dispute for several years.

Nygard alleges Bacon has colluded with others to damage his reputation, remove him from his Lyford Cay home and get his permanent Bahamian residency revoked. Nygard also claims Bacon conspired with the CBC to supply false stories about Nyg*rd, specifically a Fifth Estate story that aired April 9, 2010.

None of these allegations has been proven in court.

Smith said it would be a mistake to describe the coalition's work as another chapter in the dispute.

Smith said the threat to Clifton Bay is a microcosm of other development in the Bahamas, including the building of a power plant at Abaco and a huge marina at Guana Cay.

"I'm not interested in getting involved in a fight between two rich foreign white folk at Lyford Cay," Smith said -- it's more about protecting the environment and holding the Bahamian government accountable for development in the small Caribbean nation.

"This is not just about Mr. Bacon and Mr. Nygard," the Freeport lawyer said. "There is a reality to this story that affects people's lives and that's why I got involved."

A Nygard International spokeswoman was unavailable.

Smith said the coalition's goal is to compel the Bahamian government to formulate a land-and-marina management plan for the area.

"There are no environmental-protection laws in the Bahamas," he said. "There are no laws for the requirement of environmental-impact assessments."

Nygard's Lyford Cay complex, which was constructed over the last two decades, features two beaches, three lit beach volleyball courts, a tennis court, basketball court, disco, three boats, 24-seat movie theatre, staff of 20, grand dining hall and 25 cabanas, each equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, Jacuzzi and outdoor shower.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 30, 2013 A13

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