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Mar 5, 2014

City Hall to rehabilitate Conch Shell Bay

You could be forgiven for hearing the name Conch Shell Bay and picturing pristine beaches overlooking the picturesque waters of the Caribbean. But if you’re a resident of Belize City, you know that nothing is further from the truth. Conch Shell Bay is a poverty-stricken area off Vernon Street in the city, a bunch of ramshackle homes perched on the canal-side. It’s considered one of the more dangerous zones, and there’s nothing pristine or picturesque about it. Any significant change in that aesthetic and to that reality would be a monumental undertaking, but it’s been said that every journey starts with the first small step. Today, that first step was taken by an aspiring politician, and that in itself begs cynicism, but kneejerk reaction aside, Mike Rudon was in the area and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Conch Shell Bay has been neglected by consecutive political parties. Promises have ebbed and flowed with the campaign tides, but the only change these residents have seen is that their homes get more dilapidated and life gets harder. Today more politicians visited, led by Mayor of Belize City Darrell Bradley. There is a plan underway which was inspired by Councilor Phillip Willoughby. It’s started small, with just some fill and materials, but residents who haven’t gotten any assistance for so long were grateful.

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“What we want to do is to ensure that we impact the community. As a result of Councilor Willoughby’s involvement he managed to procure donations of material so that today you will be seeing that every single area will be filled, every lot in the area will be filled. Councilor Willoughby will be distributing plywood to residences and also zinc material, so it’s a thing that we are trying to do what we can. These are oftentimes band-aid solutions because when we originally did our assessment we realized that the need of people is far greater than we can handle with these kinds of interventions.”

 

Today, the tour also included church leaders and other important functionaries in development. Because after the band-aid is applied, there is a planned move toward healing the wound.

 

Darrell Bradley

“This morning, we had a meeting with the Commissioner of Lands to see if they could arrange and rectify all the title issues that are in this area. Many of these persons are working persons…they have very strong ties to the community…it’s a good family life, a good feel, but a lot of them are saying that they can’t get assistance because they don’t have their title documents, so that Councilor Willoughby was working along with the Lands Department to ensure that there is a survey that is going to be done in this area. There’s going to be a land audit that is going to be done so that every single person can be rectified. And that’s the point when we want to bring in Hand in Hand Ministry in terms of ensuring that there can be a linking with the individuals and then that department and the city will pump in whatever resources we need to see that there is some housing assistance that’s going to be given.”

 

Wilbert Vallejos, Commissioner of Lands

“By looking at it just now, I can conclude that development happened here without any sort of permissions or following any guidelines per se. So much so that houses are very close to each other so you can barely know just by looking at it where the property boundaries are or where are the roads and things like that. So in simple words it’s chaotic.”

 

Chaotic maybe, but Commissioner of Lands Wilbert Vallejos is committed to his partnership in a venture to try to help this small, impoverished community in Belize City.

 

Wilbert Vallejos

Wilbert Vallejos

“What the Lands Department’s role is…is basically offering technical assistance. Our planners are going to come next week and they’re going to pick up the building footprints and the coordinates of each structure that exists in this area, and prepare a subdivision layout as how it exists. And then we’re going to provide that to the City Council who then will call a meeting with all stakeholders and look at the plan and see how it can be properly adjusted to accommodate everybody’s situation. When we’ve come up with the development proposal and everybody has agreed, particularly the residents, because they have to agree with it, then we can proceed to survey the land, or re-survey the land in accordance to how it is. Hopefully it’s not going to be a very, very challenging situation.”

 

We have no doubt that it will be very challenging indeed, but we can only hope that this venture doesn’t go the way of so many political promises, made by every manner of politician in the past.

 

Phillip Willoughby

Phillip Willoughby, Aspiring Political Candidate

“For me it’s about the baby I have in my hands. It’s about the future of the residents of the Conch Shell Bay area. You know we go to Municipal Elections early next year, and you know it’s no secret that I have interest in contesting a convention hopefully in the near future to represent the persons in the Albert Constituency and I will do an excellent and great job in terms of representing the people of Alberts.”

 

Hand-in-Hand Ministry will be looking at providing assistance with housing, but first, all these residents will need to have title. Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

According to Mayor Bradley, this is a commitment his Council fully intends to keep, since they have made significant investment in the areas surrounding Conch Shell Bay…so they won’t be able to ignore the little pocket of poverty in the center.

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1 Response for “City Hall to rehabilitate Conch Shell Bay”

  1. Lord LOL says:

    I hope these unfortunate people will see a better day and have a better standard of living. they truly deserve it.

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