Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Municipal Boundaries Re-Delineation Exercise discusses expanding the boundaries of San Pedro Town

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A public meeting, a crucial step in the process, was held on Thursday, May 23rd, at the Lions Den to discuss the possibility of expanding the current boundaries of San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. This Municipal Boundaries Re-Delineation Exercise campaign, led by the Department of Local Government, is being held across the seven towns in the country. The aim is to engage the local communities, recognizing their importance in shaping the future of their town, especially in areas where there are no readily distinguishable boundaries or traditional boundary lines are not definitive. The session saw many island residents voicing their opinions about the project and suggesting ideas for its successful implementation, emphasizing the significance of their input.
The Director of Local Government, Clifford King, started the information session just after 6PM. After welcoming those in attendance, Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez delivered a short welcome address. The Mayor noted that expanding municipal boundaries will continue providing the necessary services to all residents as the town grows. “By extending our boundaries strategically, we can have a stronger say in environmental matters,” he said. “It will also enable us to manage resources better and plan better coordinate land use, transportation networks, and public services. The Mayor said that extending the reach of their jurisdiction will enhance the residents’ quality of life and benefit visitors, as well as help the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) to plan their revenue collection better.
King continued the session with a presentation showing the existing boundaries of San Pedro marked in yellow. The map depicts that the SPTC jurisdiction narrows toward the island’s northern area. The town authority’s jurisdiction widens toward the southern portion of Ambergris Caye. The proposed expansion marked in yellow will allow the SPTC to have a broader jurisdiction toward the northern portion of the island. Some areas included in the new municipal boundary expansion include Secret Beach and as far north as Cayo Frances Lagoon.
The feedback from those attending the public meeting highlighted the need for enforcement regarding town planning. With the new proposed expansion covering more ground north of San Pedro, the stakeholders at the meeting called on Mayor Nuñez and Area Representative Honourable Andre Perez to apply a responsible urban development plan and avoid the lack of planning in downtown and south San Pedro. Perez said consultations are vital to implementing good projects that include everyone’s input. He said his government would listen to everyone’s suggestions and make this project fruitful for San Pedro.
Suggestions focused on infrastructure, housing, and conservation. The fact that the new proposed boundaries do not include areas like Cayo Rosario triggered discontent among the audience, who suggested that Cayo Rosario be included in this newly proposed boundary. The main reason is a proposed tourism development in Caye. Many San Pedro tourism stakeholders have opposed this project, believing it will negatively impact the surrounding marine ecosystem. There is a grave concern that it will affect the flats around Cayo Rosario and other areas that support the popular fly-fishing industry. Some tour guides added that if the SPTC has no jurisdiction over areas like Cayo Rosario, they would be unable to intervene or monitor any developments that can threaten essential and sensitive marine environments supporting the tourism industry.
King acknowledged every comment and recommendation and stated that they would be considered. King added that the public meeting is to consult the local population and listen to their concerns, inquiries, and suggestions to modify a plan that fits the needs of a particular municipality.
The Municipal Boundaries Re-Delineation Exercise was first introduced in 2012 but remained dormant for years. The project was re-activated in July 2021 by the new government under Prime Minister Honourable Dr. John Briceño. This nationwide campaign also works with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Elections and Boundaries Department.
The public meetings to introduce the re-delineation exercise continue in other parts of the country. Sessions were scheduled for Benque Viejo del Carmen on Monday, May 27th, and in the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena in the Cayo District on Tuesday, the following day. Public consultations will be held on Wednesday in Corozal Town, Corozal District. The engagement meetings will end on Thursday, May 30th, in Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk District. The gatherings have been held in Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District, and Dangriga Town, Stann Creek District.

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