SPBA weekly update: September 29, 2008
SPBA September General Meeting – September 25th, 2008
Weekly Update: In an attempt to keep members more up to date the SPBA weekly update will be sent out every Tuesday via email, and posted to www.sanpedrobusiness.com
also. If something comes up, the best way to deal with issues is email. Send in any concerns, issues and/or ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org
. Volunteers to work in the office are also welcome – even if it's just an hour or two a week.
Next Meeting: The next general meeting of the SPBA will occur on October 23rd, 2008. Full financial statements for the SPBA will be available at that meeting, and Financial Reports will be made available Quarterly after that. Although specific details from the accountant will be available on October 23rd, here are some very rough numbers to show where the finances of the Association are:
$41,000 Bz was raised for Security related issues and $44,000 Bz has been spent to date. It was costing $2,300 Bz a week to house and feed the BDF & Coast Guard members that were on the Island. Part of that was paid by the SPBA and the Minister of Tourism stepped in to assist with the rest. They are now cooking for themselves and this has dropped the cost down to approximately $500 Bz per week.
$30,000 Bz was raised in Member Dues. Approximately $9,000 to $10,000 Bz of that money has been spent. The general account of the SPBA has a balance of approximately $19,000 Bz at this time.
January Block Party: The second annual 'Savor San Pedro Food Festival' will be taking place in January 2009. The response from this year's event was very positive, so we are now in the planning stages of the 2009 event. Anyone that would like to assist in the planning and execution of this even is asked to contact Rebecca.
Housing the BDF: We currently do have housing lined up for the BDF for the next 2 weeks. Thanks to all that have stepped up to assist in the area. We do, however, need some assistance for the week starting October 7th. If housing cannot be found, the troops will be sent back to the mainland. Anyone with available room is asked to contact us ASAP.
The Plan to build a permanent housing solution for BDF and Coast Guard members is moving along well. Cal and Amanda Symes have generously agreed to lease a location for $1 Bz a year for this purpose. The plan is still to acquire 2 Mennonite prefab homes. A generous member of the community has also pledged to match any amount raised by the community towards this project.
The Master Plan for San Pedro: Coastal Zoning is currently reviewing the official Master Plan for the Island. They will be making recommendations for the Master Plan, and once community consultation has been done based on their review, an official Master Plan will be legislated.
Community Clean-ups: Various schools on the island are getting together for a community clean up project. On October 4th all schools will be participating. To date over 160 large garbage bags worth of garbage has been cleared from Boca Del Rio to Blue Reef.
Nominations for Vice Chair of SPBA: Nominations are now being accepted for the position of Vice Chair of the SPBA. Nominations will be accepted until October 20th, 2008 and voting for the position will take place at the next General Meeting (October 23rd). To nominate someone just email or stop by the SPBA office.
Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, the Honorable Manuel Heredia then took the floor to discuss some issues. His comments were as follows:
Minister Heredia commented how he is always willing to work closely with the SPBA in order to deal with the issues being faced by the business community of San Pedro. He then commented on some of the work that has been accomplished since taking office. He has visited almost every district of Belize to learn of the needs and issues affecting each area of the country.
The BTB has been re-organized and now the Board of Directors is comprised of stakeholders in the Tourism industry, and not of political appointees. He believes that the BTB is functioning better now by having good representation for the industry. The Directors have the interests of the industry at heart and are working very hard.
He is also committed to ensuring that a 25-year Master Plan is created and enforced moving forward, both on a National scale and for specific districts and areas, especially for Ambergris Caye based on the rapid rate of development that is taking place here.
Most of the marketing providers for the Tourism industry in Belize have been changed. This shake up is good, as it revitalizes the work being done to promote Belize around the world.
Minister Heredia is now in the process of re-organizing the Ministry of Tourism, much in the same way that the BTB has been re-organized.
Belize will be hosting the Summit of Responsible Tourism in 2009. At least 500 international representatives will be in attendance. This Summit will be held in the Toledo district. More details on this event will be forthcoming.
The government has pledged to ensure that money that is generated in a specific area in tourism stays in that area as much as possible. He is ready and willing to do whatever it takes to make sure this pledge is kept.
Locally, there is some good news coming. The Street Sweeper has been paid for and will arrive on the island very shortly. A Trash Compactor has also been ordered and will hopefully arrive before the end of this year. Most of the Cobblestone Paving Project is complete, and they are now looking at the issue of roads in other areas that need improvement and fixing.
An Allocation of $75,000 Bz has been set aside to deal with the issue of Electricity in the San Mateo area. San Mateo is a problem spot. Various ministry officials have visited both the area and the School in an effort to figure out what to do with the issues of that subdivision. Recommendations from these various officials will be coming shortly. Suggestions of relocation & having the area filled properly have been made, however that is a very expensive undertaking. Under no circumstances will be the school be closed. The quality of education at Holy Cross is probably the best in San Pedro in Minister Heredia's opinion. The rumors of the school being forced to close had no merit at all. Minister Heredia was one of the first people to ask the Wilson's to open Holy Cross. It may have grown too quickly, however the school has his total support.
The Mayor and Town Council have done a great job, and have been working very closely with Minister Heredia. Cabinet has made it very clear that any issues involving the island, especially land issues, will be dealt with in close collaboration with the people of San Pedro. They have pledge to work closely with us to ensure that any decisions are the proper ones for the people of San Pedro. The Minister also asked for the help of the community, to let him know if any issues have slipped between the cracks.
On the issue of security, Minister Heredia mentioned that he speaks almost daily with Rebecca regarding security issues on the island. The government is working very hard to make San Pedro safe. Assistance from the Government of Belize will continue, especially from the Minister of Defense. There is now a very close relationship between the Business Community, Law Enforcement and the Government.
The Floor was then opened up for questions.
Q. Now that the issue of security is being addressed, it's time to start looking at the serious issue of Medical & Emergency care on the island. A community the size of San Pedro needs a 24-hour emergency care facility.
A. The Minister of Health is coming out to the island for 2 days to deal with the issue of the Poly Clinic. He agrees that this is a very serious issue that needs to be resolved. One of the issues regarding the Poly Clinic involves staff housing. The purchase of a couple DFC houses was looked at, as a means of housing Poly Clinic staff however it was decided that was too expensive. The idea of building housing on top of the Poly Clinic is being examined. Another large issue at the moment is the lack of a full-time administrator for the Poly Clinic. It is a very serious issue and the Minister of Health is working hard to resolve it.
Q. There is a grown concern that the issues concerning aviation are being blown out of proportion at the moment. Is there any plan to publicly address these issues?
A. Minister Heredia mentioned that this is actually one of the safer regions based on amount of flights vs. actual aviation incidents. Steve Schulte of Tropic Air addressed the issue stating that the investigation of the latest incident is on-going, however it appears that the incident was caused by engine failure in a brand new engine, and that there have been other issues with this type and make of engine in other areas (Guatemala for example). New engines are on order, and 2 new airplanes are coming as well. He noted that there have been only 5 incidents in the history of Tropic Air, even though they fly 200 flights a day, 365 days a year. Maya Air flies almost as many as well. Given the sheer number of flights made incidents are inevitable, however overall the records of both airlines are quite good.
Q. Will Municipal Airstrip be fixed any time soon?
A. There is a plan being negotiated with both Airlines to almost completely redo Municipal Airport. Tropic has practically agreed to the idea and Maya is being involved as well. It will cost approximately $8 million to fix, and hopefully the deal will be finalized very soon. Within 5 years all Airports and Airstrips in the country will be fixed and improved. Corozal has already been completed, and other projects are in the works according to Minister Heredia.
Q. Are there any Plans to deal with the Road North of the Boca Del Rio Bridge?
A. Engineers from the Ministry of Works are coming to island in October. At the moment there is no declared road north of the bridge. The Ministry of Works has the authority to declare a road and work out any compensation necessary to land owners etc. Once an official road is declared then work can be done to ensure that the road is maintained to an acceptable standard.
Q. What is the status of the Boca Del Rio road/sewage digging project?
A. Minister Heredia is disappointed how this project has been coming along and looking into what he can do about the situation. He is talking to the people involved in the situation to make sure that the streets are put back into proper shape, or else the potential to take legal action regarding this issue will be examined.
Q. The road in the south between the 2 dredging companies is getting to be in bad shape. Big trucks mean big potholes. If there is a big rain in the next little while that road will be impassible.
A. Minister Heredia will talk to the Mayor about this issue and agrees that the 2 dredging companies need to give back to the community and help maintain the road.
Q. San Pablo church is deteriorating. It might make a good spot to house and base the BDF. Can anything be done with this building?
A. Dealing with the Church Board can be difficult. The legal title of that land is in limbo, and therefore it might not make the best sense to use it in that fashion.
Q. What of the rumors about building a secondary access road around the Airstrip to ease some of the traffic congestion in town?
A. We have completed a survey and measurements have been taken to construct a road around the end of the airstrip. When the engineers from the Ministry of Works are on island they will be taking a look at this spot as well. Alternate access to the west of the island is really needed.
Q. The new veterinarian hired by Saga will be living in the Saga office. Would it be possible for some members of the SPBA to pool some money to provide more appropriate accommodation for the Vet?
A. The SPBA may or may not be able to take on this issue, but there may be members of the community that would be willing to help accommodate the new Veterinarian in a more suitable fashion. Anyone interested in this idea is asked to contact the SPBA.
Q. During slow season, what steps have the Ministry of Tourism and the BTB been taking to help promote for next year?
A. Medium and smaller hotels & tour operators have been given some breaks and incentives to help them gear up for next high season.
Trash Disposal: The question of what can be done about the Trash and Health situations on the island was raised. There are many cases of BEL Transformers being tossed into the Lagoon on the north of the island (at least 6 instances). Major household appliances are strewn along the road north as well in addition to other garbage. These are very serious Health issues and there does not seem to be any regulations relating to trash disposal. An alternative needs to be implemented. According to the recycling company in Belize City it is too expensive to get the plastic off the island. The Chamber of Commerce looked into bringing an incinerator plant but it was deemed to expensive.
This is a very serious issue. Any members with ideas regarding this issue are asked to contact the SPBA to help figure out a solution.
South Beach Development EIA Meeting: The Public Consultation for the South Beach Belize Development will be held on October 10th, 2008 at 6:30pm on the 2nd level of the Alliance Bank Building in San Pedro Town. The general public is invited to attend.
Copies of this EIA are available for perusal at the San Pedro Town Council office, the San Pedro Library, The Hol Chan Marine Reserve Office, the Reef Village office, the Belize Fisheries Department in Belize City, the DOE office in Belmopan and on the web at the following location: http://www.doe.gov.bz/EIAs.html
It is important that members attend. Please be clear that the SPBA is not trying to focus on any particular development, we are just trying to ensure that all future developments on the island are following the same rules, laws and guidelines that every member of the SPBA have followed in the development projects they have been involved in.
Master Plan: Coastal Zone is doing a revamp of the Master Plan for San Pedro. Once this has been reviewed and updated, it will be made into law so that it is enforceable.
Hol Chan Expansion: The Hol Chan expansion has been approved. Some small details are being worked out and then there will be a large announcement and formal ceremony regarding the expansion.
If any member has questions or concerns they are asked to contact the Board.
San Pedro Business Association
Vilma Linda Plaza, San Pedro
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Phone: (501) 226.4474
Email: email@example.com www.sanpedrobusiness.com