Re-evaluating CITCO’s Parking Meter Pilot Project
The Belize City Council’s Parking Meter Pilot Project comes to an end on March 31 and the council is looking to re-evaluate project’s purpose. A year ago, the council launched the project to reduce traffic jams and ensure the public has access to equitable parking spaces. However, the meters placed along the Newtown Barracks area have been met with criticisms from vendors stationed at Digi Park. The business owners claim that the meters have deterred customers from supporting them and are calling on the council to remove them. Belize City Mayor, Bernard Wagner, says the request comes as a surprise to him given that the vendors had initially supported the project.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “Remember we had discussion with those vendors when we started this pilot project. Actually the pilot project comes to an end the ending of March right here and so we’ll reassess where we stand. Nothing is written in stone. We understand their situation. I continue to liaise with them but the point here is that we are here to serve the residence , we don’t have any intention of sending any one of those vendors out of business. Actually we want them to be successful business and if they have an issue there with the parking meters at the end of the pilot project we reassess and see how it works. We know it worked well on Albert Street maybe it hasn’t worked well in the Digi Park area and so we’re open for those discussions. Prior to the parking meters who were the people that parked in front of the park during the day? Answer me that question who used to park in front of the park prior to the parking meters it wasn’t visitors there it was the employees of all those businesses in those area. Actually it’s the same vendors who approached us and said listen we can’t get nobody to come to our establishment to buy because the entire area is taken up the entire day by the employees of the BPOs, of the casinos and when customers did go there to purchase from these vendors they used to get tickets from our enforcement team. So even now if we decide to do away with the parking meters I assure you that the following day you will have parking there for all the employees along the stretch and so there will be no access for residents of the city to access those same vendors. So listen man we have to know who are our customers.”
Wagner explained that if the council goes back to manually monitoring parking in the area, the problem will not be fixed. He says that it’s a tricky situation that the council will have to evaluate at the end of the month.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “You see what we were trying to achieve there was equity. That the space that is managed by the city is shared equally by all the residents of the city. We moved that parking meter because the pilot project will come to an ending at the end of March and we’ll reassess it because we don’t want to drive those vendors out of business and I am telling you you will come back to me two months from then to say that nobody is accessing their business because the entire space would be occupied by the employees that work in that area I am guaranteeing you that. That’s why the parking meters were there to put in place a system of pay while you stay. Pay while you stay and that was put in there so that everybody could have equal opportunity not only the employees. We had the issue here on Albert Street the bankers come all day and park because they come early for work and then they park the entire day, them and the taximen control the entire Albert Street. That parking meter worked for us out there. It may not have worked at the BTL park so we’ll go back to the board and reassess and probably we move out the meters.”
The meters are owned and operated by businessman, Marlon Skeen.