Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner and a Belizean delegation are currently in Bridgetown, Barbados on an official visit. The team left the country last week to attend the Caribbean Local Government Forum (CLGF) conference, which was held under the theme, “Building Back Better: Local Government Delivering Development in the Caribbean”. According to Mayor Wagner, the conference provided the council with an opportunity to highlight the various CLGF-supported initiatives that are ongoing in Belize City under the Urban Sustainability and Smart City Project.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor Belize City: “As you know, Belize City has been fortunate to have been granted through the E.U. and will be administrated by the UNDP for E-transit, electric buses in the city so we wanted to get a real feel of how the experience has been in Barbados and, you know, Barbados is one of the leading countries in this region in respect to E-transit and in respect to really capitalising and ensuring that their footprint in respect to the reduction of CO2 and those other pollution in the air, they have been one of the leaders in the region. So we felt that, given that we’re here on a conference, we wanted to kill two birds with one stone and so have that opportunity to meet with the energy people here in Barbados and they took us on a tour with the buses and by and large, by and large the buses are, live up to what we anticipate. Certainly, we wanted to ensure that, we wanted to learn from their experience. Obviously you want to learn from their experience given their first hand and we wanted to really shape and prepare for the introduction of these electric buses in the city and so that’s why I felt that this tour today was very very important.”
Another activity on Wagner’s agenda was a tour of Bridgetown on one of the city’s electric buses. According to Wagner, the tour offered insight into the council’s upcoming Electric Buses pilot project, which is being funded by the European Union.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor Belize City: “We had people from Guyana, from Trinidad & Tobago, from Barbados, from St.Lucia, from St. Kitts, Jamaica, Mayors, Minister of Government, Local Government personnel and so it gave us an opportunity to really come together and share our experience in COVID, with the emergence of COVID. How it has been, how we have emerged out of COVID and what are our plans to build back better as nations all in this region. I spoke in respect to local economic development, our plans for local economic development, what we did with the advent of COVID, how we kept our people working with the BCAP Program. That was very important. They love the idea out here. I also spoke on Evidence Based Municipal Planning. As you know, we do have a GIS unit now established at the City Council which really will help us in disaster management. We are able to now, really, using GIS technology, we are now able to map out the city in zones and able to identify emergency routes. We are able to map out which individual lives in that house on that street. How many is in that household, is there an elderly person living in that house? And so it really would aid us during disaster management. And so I spoke on that matter and I concluded with our Smart City initiative where we looked to strengthen the inclusiveness of communities of those communities that are, that lives on the margins of society and we gave examples of our Armadillo Park project which was a living example of where you bring communities together and have them feel a part of the project. That park along Armadillo Street was a part of our Smart City project funded by CLGF again and where we integrated local development, inclusiveness of the community and also ensuring that we build resilient communities.”
The Mayor was joined on the tour by the CEO of the Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy, Logistics and E-Governance, Jose Urbina and Ryan Cobb, Energy Director in the Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy, Logistics and E-Governance.