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Apr 8, 2022

A Public Meeting to Discuss New Parking Meters in the City

A public meeting convened by Mayor Bernard Wagner and the Belize City Council was held on Thursday evening at the House of Culture. The gathering was to hear and address the concerns of those who wanted to know more about how they are affected by the new parking meters. For some reason the merchants from Albert Street, as well as restaurateurs and bar owners on Newtown Barracks, did not attend, despite strong objections expressed this week. News Five’s Isani Cayetano attended the consultation and has the following story.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Where were all the businesspeople who complained long and loud about the loss of revenue with the introduction of a new parking system on Albert Street and Newtown Barracks? They were noticeably absent from last night’s public meeting at the House of Culture. Mayor Bernard Wagner and a team of managers at City Hall were on hand to discuss the newly implemented parking meter pilot project in downtown Belize City and along the entertainment strip.

 

Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Mayor, Belize City Council

“Tonight gives us the opportunity again to do further consultations in respect to parking meters, even though we have done extensive consultation contrary, actually, to what I’ve been hearing in various media houses that adequate consultation was not done.”

 

That was the claim being made by members of the private sector, those who operate businesses at both locations that were previously mentioned. A few, including Richard Price, who owns Premium Wines & Spirits, admitted that they were consulted previously.

 

Richard Price

Richard Price, Owner, Premium Wines & Spirits

“We expressed our concerns that time and nearly everything that we talked about is now actually happening. So it really is devastating to us at the moment.”

 

Others charge that CitCo did not reach out to them before the changes came into effect on Monday. Regrettably, when given the opportunity to voice their concerns in an open forum, they failed to attend.

 

Richard Price

“One hundred percent, we will be there at the next meeting. I hope that the mayor is strong enough to actually listen to the concerns of the business community. This is a business area, it’s not really a residential area anymore. Again, nobody here wants it. I’m not too sure why we are having it, there wasn’t a problem before, as far as I am concerned with my business, there was no problem as it was previously. So I am one hundred percent against this initiative.”

 

In their place were a number of residents from other parts of the city who either shop in the downtown area or recreate near B.T.L. Park. The political hue among the attendees, nonetheless, was fairly evident.

 

Carolyn Trench-Sandiford

Carolyn Trench-Sandiford, President of the Senate

“The city is growing and for space, you’re always going to have competing uses, that’s a fact. I only speak as a citizen, the individual who owns a store may have an issue, the taxi [driver] might have his issue, I only speak as a citizen. The more the city grows, the more you’re going to have people who want to shop. There is no place other than a downtown area that has a concentration of business and commercial entities.”

 

Not only is Carolyn Trench-Sandiford the President of the Senate, she is also an urban planner. As a proponent of parking meters, she addresses the need for such a system to be put in place.

 

Carolyn Trench-Sandiford

“You can use it for your short period or you can use it for a long period. It’s up to you to decide how long you want to stay there and therefore how much money you’re going to pay. If you don’t want to park there, as I see, you still have options where you can drive on the outer streets and park. I think in many cities throughout the world that I have been [to], I have never known that they had preferred and preferential parking, other than for safety: fire, ambulance, that kind of thing.”

 

So what are the consequences for drivers who overstay their allotted time in a metered parking space?  Will they be ticketed or booted?

 

Bernard Wagner

“Again, during this pilot project, no booting will occur. It’s just; we have discussed it at the caucus level in respect to eventually reaching the point where the legislation is up-to-date so that we could commence booting. But during this one-year period there will be no booting, we will just use the ticketing system in the interim.”

 

Proprietors maintain that parking meters are simply driving away business.

 

Linford Rosado

Linford Rosado, Proprietor, Thirsty Thursdays

“I can’t go on a whim now, I can’t stop at any of these places on a whim. I’m driving home and I say, “Ey, I feel like a cold beer, let me stop at Thirsty’s.” I can’t do that anymore, I have to go and buy a card and then walk down the street to go and put it in a meter. So I won’t go, I’ll go to somewhere that is more convenient. So they’re killing us.”

 

To that, Mayor Wagner encourages them to think outside of the box.

 

Bernard Wagner

“Out of challenges, you have to become innovative, and so I challenge all the business owners on the entertainment strip that do not have the parking for their patrons to become innovative. Noh blame di meter, right, noh blame di meter.”

 

Isani Cayetano for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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