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Mayor Bernard Wagner Says the Council Does Not Support Squatting

Last night we reported on Deputy Mayor Allan Pollard coming to the rescue of squatters who were blocked off from accessing their homes in the Krooman Lagoon Area. Today the head honcho of the city, Mayor Bernard Wagner said that the Belize City Council is not in support of anyone squatting, particularly in an area that is supposed to be a protected watershed. According to Wagner while the council is not taking any sides, they are not in support of anyone squatting in that area due to the effects it has on nearby communities that are prone to flooding.

Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “While we understand and really appreciate what’s happening there in terms of the plight of those residents as a City Council we cannot in no way ever countenance squatting on lands whether it be for the city or whether it be for crown land. To the best of my knowledge that area there is really a water catchment area and when we begin to have incursions, unplanned incursions, unregulated incursions we see the effects on the environment around that area on the highway. Now we’re seeing more flooding occurring on the highway coming into the city coming on the George Price Highway that is as a result of the residents or the building up of that community back there on water catchment, that’s a water catchment area and so the water needs somewhere to run and so it comes on the highway. I believe that situation the seeds were sown fifteen years ago and today we are now reaping the effects of those seeds that were sown without any type of progressive thinking that this area here is a natural water catchment area and when we have this type of unplanned urbanization and with the effects of climate change this is what occurs.”

And while, the council isn’t in support of encroachments in that area the Mayor says that they are in the process of meeting with central government to sort out the situation.

Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “Well it has to be an approach where they engage the residents, engage the landowner, you will have to engage government. The government has to it’s their land it’s crown land I believe they regulate land in all municipalities. We don’t own any of the lands that is being squatted on immediately so it would have to be bringing together all those stakeholders. I’m encouraged that we have been having discussions on a relocation policy that is being headed out of the Ministry looking at developing a relocation policy that will really put in place the mechanisms to ensure adequate relocation of individuals who we find are squatting on national lands, are squatting on areas that serve a purpose for the environment and so that process is ongoing.”