Chan Pine Ridge Community Divided Over Land Subdivision Proposal
Villagers in Chan Pine Ridge, Orange Walk District, are divided over plans to subdivide the community’s showgrounds and horse racetrack. Last night, the village’s council met with residents to gather community consensus. Months ago, the council launched a petition for residents to decide whether to divide the land into approximately 150 house lots for first-time landowners and single mothers. However, while the majority voted in favor of the project, some residents feel it will deprive the community of recreation space and are in opposition. Area Representative for Orange Walk East, Kevin Bernard, says he was provided with the petition’s result and spoke to Love News on his role in the endeavor.
Kevin Bernard, Area Representative for Orange Walk East: “When the team, the village council was on the campaign trail two years ago one of the concerns of the residents in the community was that people need access to land, they don’t have any access to land and that there are these unused lands that were there where the horse track is and seeing that there is no horse racing anymore in Chan Pine Ridge the proposal was that they will consult with the residents and so it took some time. The village council got elected and the chairman and his team had been saying that they were going to get the petition. So what they did – they did check with me and I told them listen my advice is that you have to take this through the right process. You start with your petition you have to go around the villages and get your petition, get your signatures. So they did all that and then the council had to meet as a body to pass a resolution as to what it is that they want to do in terms of the subdivision so a resolution apparently that had had a village council meeting and they passed that resolution and then the third step was that they needed to ensure that they have a general meeting with the community. Now I keep hearing as well that “Oh they want to take away the show grounds and the whole process of the March 9th Fair.” that is absolutely rubbish and absolutely untrue. The section that is always used as the show ground where there is the display of the cultural dances and the agriculture products that will remain intact and the village council – in fact I will be working with the village council to enhance that area. We want to put a nice stage, w want to ensure that the stalls are properly rebuilt and redesigned so that when we have the agriculture fair you know people have a better location.”
Community activist Teresita Torres is one of the persons opposing the venture. She attended last night’s meeting and says she believes the plans are not being executed properly.
Teresita Torres, Community Activist: “It is the government’s business to issue lands to these people. You know that is like a reserve, the horse racing tract is a reserve and so I believe deep down that that area should not have been given out and as a matter of fact I was asking as to who are the lands committee members and they have not yet established who are the members of the lands committee. So and after actually this is going to be the chairman’s third consecutive term in office and there has not been established a lands committee and so I was informed that that will get into action and also I managed to ask as to where I can get an application if I am interested party in wanting to apply for a piece of land and apparently they say that that is going to be available onwards. So that is the status. Nothing was formal. This is a very informal meeting. To me I wasn’t even given the privilege to speak and so that is what is happening and that crowd they’re very lawless I don’t know what to call them. And so they are not even giving me chance to speak and this is totally not acceptable.”
The meeting sparked tensions among residents but remained peaceful.