BELIZE CITY REDISCOVER RECONNECT ACTION PLAN FOR SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT OF BELIZE CITY, BELIZE Inter-American Development Bank
Contents Pg. 5
ESC METHODOLOGY AND BACKGROUND
Pg. 17 Context and Background
Urban History and Growth
The Way Forward
ABOUT THE PLAN
Pg. 57 Pg. 49 Public Opinion Survey
Priority Area 1: Vulnerability to Natural Disasters and Climate Change
Climate Change: More Storms and Rising Seas
Economic Impact and Loss of Life
Mangroves: Natural drainage and a natural barrier
Priority Area 2: Sanitation: Drainage Network and Solid Waste Management
Pg. 115 Short-term Actions
1. Branding and Wayfinding
2. Zoning Ordinance Development
Priority Area 3: Mobility
3. Community Led Initiatives
Priority Area 4: City Planning: The Need for an Institutional Framework
Medium Term Actions
Uncontrolled Growth and Housing Settlements
Coordination, Communication, and Capacity Building
Build Capacity within City Government
Long Term Actions
1. Living with Water
2. Plan Making
Priority Area 5: Energy
Energy in Transportation
GHG and Land Use
GHG and Alternative Fuel Sources
Priority Area 6: Employment, Education and Citizen Security
Belize city is known as the economic, cultural, and historical heart of Belize.
ABOUT THE PLAN
Belize City is known as the economic, cultural, and historical heart of Belize. The City boasts unmatched natural beauty, celebrated cultures and a rich history. It must also however, contend with several challenges. Its geography, balance of environmental resources, and development trends pose serious threats to its ability to truly thrive as a sustainable city. The Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s low-lying and exposed location along the Caribbean Sea makes Belize City vulnerable to extreme weather events and severe floodingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;daunting realities that have increased in frequency in recent years. There is a need for a comprehensive land use plan that permits urban areas to develop in ways to meet the physical and social infrastructure needs of a growing population.
Belize City plays an important role as the urban anchor for the entire country. To maintain this position, sustainable practices, smart policies, and strategic plans must be prioritized. The following Action Plan seeks to educate stakeholders on the challenges facing Belize City, while providing guidance and action items that, if implemented, can help Belize City emerge as a stronger, more resilient city. Baseline studies, public opinion surveys and supplemental reports helped identify a combination of short, medium- and long-term projects, as well as community-led initiatives, to guide community leaders and stakeholders in shaping Belize City into a thriving and resilient coastal city. This Action Plan provides steps intended to maximize City assets and allow the diverse communities invested in Belize City the ability to rediscover and reconnect to all that Belize City has to offer. 5
Located in eastern Central America, between Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea, Belize boasts a rich history, diverse cultures, and world-renowned natural beauty. The country is also located within the hurricane belt and is affected by coastal storms and floods. The sea proves to be both friend and foe for Belize as tourism is the main driver of Belize’s economy. The sea provides a livelihood for an estimated 200,000 Belizeans, almost half of the population. According to the World Wildlife Fund (2017), “15% of the country’s gross domestic product comes from the reef—including about US$15M from the commercial fishing industry and about US$200M from tourism activities”. Belize has a vulnerable and low-lying coastline, which accommodates 45 percent of the country’s population. The majority of the population live in the old capital of Belize City. Belize City sits at sea level with an abundance of rivers, streams and wetlands: it is especially vulnerable to coastal flooding. In 1961, Belize City was directly struck by Hurricane Hattie. After the storm, the decision was made to move the capital of Belize to Belmopan. Belize City is the gateway to the country’s numerous attractions and experiences and while no longer the 8
the sea provides a livelihood for an estimated
15% of the country's gross domestic product comes from the reef
Belize City was directly struck by Hurricane Hattie
administrative capital (Belmopan, 2017), this port city remains the economic, cultural, and historical heart of the country. Belize City has grown from a small to a dynamic city. Today, a mix of the old and new patterns of development has blended together to create the City’s character and identity. Understanding the history as well as the current state of the city in terms of land, population,
and economy lays the groundwork to guide stakeholders for the next ten to fifty years. Planning for the future of Belize City presents a handful of opportunities that can move the city towards a trajectory of sustainable growth and development. At the same time, it is crucial to pay particular attention to the city’s vulnerability to natural hazards allowing planning efforts to address resilience and manage future development while protecting environmental resources. Belize City is committed to achieving a sustainable future and harnessing the optimism and pride Belizeans have for their city. Belize City plays an important role as an urban anchor for the entire country. To maintain this position, sustainable practices, smart policies, and strategic plans must be prioritized. This Belize City Action Plan provides steps to maximize city assets and allow the diverse neighbourhoods invested in Belize City to rediscover and reconnect to all that Belize City has to offer. This Action Plan provides strategic steps that address enduring city-wide issues through inclusive citizen engagement and best practices for urban land use planning. Central to the plan is acceptance of smart planning practices and the implementation of recommendations to support a better decision-making process in Belize City. Developing both residents’ and the Belize City Council’s capacity for achieving these actions will require a unified effort, as well as close collaboration. The result will be a more resilient Belize City—a Belize City better equipped to adapt to the challenges it faces, including a changing climate that regularly impacts the City. In order to prioritize Belize City’s issues, three baseline studies were conducted. These studies focused on energy and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, environmental
hazard vulnerability and mitigation, and urban growth. Supplemental studies on mobility, solid waste, citizen security, and a public opinion survey were also considered in identifying the City’s main priorities. The most pressing priority areas identified are:
Vulnerability and Climate Change
Sanitation: Drainage and Solid Waste
Employment, Education, and Citizen Security 9
Having identified priorities, several strategic action items were created to address critical issues. These action items are directed at improving the quality of life through city-wide projects that protect the Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s treasured environmental assets, while also providing guidance to the Belize City Council on how to initiate a comprehensive planning effort. This is necessary to ensure that the City develops in a sustainable way. Ideas for community led initiatives are also included, providing suggestions on how community groups can also work to improve their local quality of life.
Equips the City with tools for directing development of property through land use controls.
Short-term actions include:
Instils appreciation and city pride as well as helps citizens and visitors alike to navigate the Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s assets. It also provides a platform for economic development.
Adaptable and low-cost actions initiated by residents of the Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s neighbourhoods in response to immediate and localized issues.
Medium Term actions include building the capacity of local government as well as the residents of Belize City. This would focus on conducting a series of assessments to give the Belize City Council increased muscle to plan a Sustainable Belize City with the necessary human resources, equipment and training. 10
Long-term actions were developed in the form of larger context projects addressing:
Procedural actions for developing an original Belize City Comprehensive Plan. The actions are: Delineates actions for the city to maintain a healthy symbiotic relationship with its characteristic water features. These actions are: Update and Manage Stormwater Infrastructure
Create and Execute a Visioning and Direction Setting Framework
Develop a Land Policy Plan
Renovate Seawall to Improve Access
Create a Communitywide Urban Land Use Design
Preserve Haulover Creek
Generate Small Area Plans
Conserve and Protect the Mangroves
Create a Development Management Plan
Develop a Plan to Reduce Hazard Risk
These projects and actions will facilitate reconnecting the people of Belize City with the land, with the water, and with what happens with their city, while also letting them and visitors rediscover its greatness. Belize City boasts several environmental, cultural and economic assets that favour a sustainable and resilient future. Belize City must leverage these assets and work diligently to address the priority areas identified, using existing resources from the community and the private sector to implement the corresponding actions presented in the Action Plan. 11
Agriculture, forestry, and other land use
American Planning Association
Belize City Council
Emerging and Sustainable Cities
Gross Domestic Product
GHG Greenhouse Gas
Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute
Geographic Information System
Community Planning Assistance Team
Hectares (note: 1 hectare = 2.47 acres)
IDB Housing and Urban Development Division
Inter-American Development Bank
Industrial processes and productivity use
Latin America and (the) Caribbean
Low impact development
Representative Concentration Pathway
Small island development states
United Nations Children's Fund
Land based classification system
United States Dollar
ESC METHODOLOGY AND BACKGROUND
The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region currently faces many challenges. One of those critical issues is how to provide the benefits of a sustainable and productive urbanization process to all residents. Cities are complex, interdependent systems, and resolving any one of its problems requires a comprehensive view of its parts, their dynamics, and interactions. The IDB draws on more than 50 years of international development knowledge and experience to address the sustainable urban development challenges facing emerging cities today. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, the Bank’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Division has implemented the Emerging and Sustainable Cities (ESC) methodology in over 75 cities in Latin American and the Caribbean. As one of HUD’s many tools, the ESC methodology promotes environmental, urban, and fiscal sustainability through a more participative, representative, and transparent government. In 2010, the IDB created the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative as a technical assistance program in response to rapid and largely unregulated urbanisation in the LAC region resulting in an urgent need to deal with the sustainability issues faced by the region’s cities. The ESC methodology helps cities identify and prioritize actions 14
to maximally improve their sustainability and residents’ quality of life. These short, medium- and long-term actions are developed into the city’s action plan for sustainable urban development. The methodology and the action plan address three dimensions of sustainability: environmental sustainability and climate change urban sustainability fiscal sustainability and governance The ESC methodology is action-oriented and key problems are quickly and systematically identified and prioritized so that a solution can be implemented. The first phase of the methodology consists of a rapid assessment of twenty-three topics within the three dimensions of sustainability to identify which sectoral areas of the city are performing well, which show signs of problems but are currently satisfactory, and which are performing poorly and require urgent attention. This assessment uses a stoplight system to classify the topics as green, yellow, or red based on a set of around 120 indicators and qualitative information gathered through interviews and document
reviews. This process is used to quickly assess a wide range of topics that are important to a city’s functioning and identify priority issues. These issues are further prioritized and assigned scores based on public opinion, climate change and disaster risk, multisectorality, and economic criteria. Two to five topics with high scores on this prioritization assessment are selected for focus in the action plan in consultation with government and community stakeholders. Once the priority action areas have been identified, more detailed analyses and studies are conducted to identify the specific problems within the topics that need to be addressed. For those identified issues, the next phase is the development of the solutions. An interdisciplinary team of consultants and specialists from the IDB works closely with the local authorities and stakeholders to develop a set of actions that will be both feasible and have a high impact on the priority sectors identified. These strategies are articulated in an action plan. Community workshops were held to brainstorm a theme for the plan, and considering the challenges and strengths of the city and the solutions proposed, the themes of rediscover and reconnect gained
consensus, representing the peoplesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; desire to add value to and re-appreciate the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s natural and built assets. The final phases of the ESC methodology are the pre-investment and implementation of the action plan, as well as the support to the establishment of a citizen-led monitoring system (Inter-American Development Bank, 2016). The entire process of the ESC methodology occurs in 6 phases and across 2 stages, summarized in the adjacent graphic. As more cities in LAC apply the ESC methodology, they become part of a network of sustainable cities, which consists of over 50 cities.
The ESC network, now known as the IDB Cities Network, allows cities throughout the region to share experiences, knowledge, benchmarks, best practices and lessons learned. The contributions of the ESC methodology and action plans help local decision-makers in intermediate cities across LAC prioritize the most critical challenges and obstacles to sustainable development, while also providing them with the tools, resources, and mechanisms to realize more coordinated and efficient planning. A critical element in this approach is also the rich knowledge transfer that occurs during dialogues between the IDB and local counterparts and stakeholders.
The ESC approach also promotes inter-agency coordination across local and national governments and civil society, in hopes to create consensus in planning priorities. It simultaneously supplies the tools and instruments needed, like this action plan, to orient city planning and decision-making in the direction of sustainable development with people and the improvement in their quality of life as the focus. The methodology is based on the premise that urban development strategies that are well planned, integrated, and crosssectoral can ensure improvements in the quality of life for citizens and help materialize a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive future for emerging cities in LAC. 15
Urbanization is happening in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) at a faster rate than in other regions of the world.
Why Belize City?
Why Belize City? ize Bel
is one of the
a eric l Am a r t Cen
independent nations in the LAC region
Urbanization is happening in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) at a faster rate than in other regions of the world. If this trend continues, by the mid-21st century, upwards of 90 percent of the Latin American population will be living in cities (IDOM, 2017). And while larger cities still tend to command attention, studies indicate that most urban population growth in the region is taking place in intermediate cities like Belize City (Lora, Powell, Praag, & Sanguinetti, 2010). Belize City, Belize, became part of the Emerging and Sustainable Cities (ESC) network in 2015. As a growing urban centre and the economic engine of the country, Belize City was an obvious candidate for the application of the ESC methodology within the LAC region. Additionally, the IDBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commitment to manage climate change makes coastal cities like Belize City particularly important for the Bank to apply newly developed tools and methodologies. The ESC methodology has been a useful tool to help prioritize the needs of its largest urban centre and focus the lens of future planning towards a more sustainable and resilient city. The following section provides broader relevant context for the country of Belize and Belize City.
became part of the emerging an sustainable cities network in 2015 19
Context and Background
Belize is located in Central America, bordering Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea. Gaining its independence in 1981, Belize is one of the youngest independent nations in the LAC region. Belize is home to the Mayan civilization and its historic ruins, the world’s second largest barrier reef, and a confluence of cultures that celebrates both its Central American and Caribbean roots. According to the Statistical Institute of Belize (2018), the projected population for 2018 was approximately 398,050. Belize’s population grows by an average of 2.65 percent annually and every 25 years the population doubles. At this rate, by the year 2040 there will be an estimated 720,000 Belizeans. Belize City is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, and while diverse, they are unified in the pride they hold for their city and their country. Food, culture and music are thoroughly mixed into the City’s fabric. Historical buildings and landmarks offer a glimpse into the City’s history, while a strong entrepreneurial spirit is shaping a burgeoning food industry. Complemented with the backdrop of palmlined streets shading brightly painted buildings, mangrove swamps full of wildlife, and city parks that overlook the Caribbean Sea, Belize City itself is an urban gem. Employment and educational opportunities are a constant draw for Belize City, but limited affordable housing options force many people to live outside Belize City, further expanding the urban footprint. Underscoring these trends is the need for planning policies guiding development and strategic infrastructure improvements in order to protect the City and its residents from the effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, flooding, and increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.
Why Belize City?
urban scale: belize city
Why Belize City?
Geographic Vulnerability The country is also located within the hurricane belt and is affected by coastal storms and floods. The sea proves to be both friend and foe for Belize as tourism is the main driver of Belize’s economy. According to the World Wildlife Fund (2017), the sea provides a livelihood for almost half the population (estimated at 200,000 Belizeans), and “15% of the country’s gross domestic product comes from the reef—including about US$15M from the commercial fishing industry and about US$200M from tourism activities”. Belize has a low-lying coastline, which accommodates 45 percent of the country’s
population. The majority of the population live in the old capital of Belize City, which sits at sea level with an abundance of rivers, streams and wetlands, leaving it especially vulnerable to coastal flooding (IDOM & IH Cantabria, 2017). In 1961, Belize City was directly struck by Hurricane Hattie. After the storm, the decision was made to move the capital of Belize to Belmopan. Belize City is the gateway to the country’s numerous attractions and experiences and while no longer the administrative capital (Belmopan, 2017), this port city remains the economic, cultural, and historical heart of the country.
AVERAGE ANNUAL GROWTH RATE (percent) IN BELIZE DISTRICT BY TOWN 15%
Burrell Boom 23
Urban History and Growth
To build a strong future for Belize City, understanding the City’s history is important. Present day Belize City, which is located at the mouth of the Belize River and the Caribbean Sea, was originally inhabited by the Mayan civilization from 200 A.D. to 1500 A.D. There have been many stories regarding the name of the City. One of them can be credited to the Mayan, who called the river Baliz, or “muddy waters” (Everitt, 1986). By the 1600s, the British founded “Belize Town” as a colonial hub for exporting lumber to the United Kingdom. The British leveraged the area’s natural aquatic assets – rivers, creeks and mangrove swamps – to enhance the inland logging and agricultural industries. Belize City’s coastal location has solidified its status as the country’s main economic 24
hub, resulting in a steady increase of both its population and its spatial footprint. The growth of the City is directly related to land demand and the availability of resources. At its early stages, Belize City grew to the north and south along the shorelines by transforming swamp areas into reclaimed land. During colonial times, downtown Belize City was the main focal point of activity. As the population grew, the City’s footprint expanded. New roads connected western inland territories so that Belize City began to expand along the western interior. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, higher areas of the city were developed while the network of canals was expanded to lower the water tables and reduce flooding. Commercial areas began emerging along the main
streets such as Front (now Albert) Street, Queen Street and North Front Street. It became a dynamic area and home to many distinguished and historic buildings and public spaces such as the Courthouse, the Treasury Building, the Paslow Building, the Government House, Saint John’s Cathedral and Yarborough Cemetery. In the 19th and 20th century, construction of roads, canals, bridges and the harbour facilitated growth with the urban footprint continuously expanding. Current trends indicate that Belize City boundaries will increase 36 percent despite an average annual growth rate that continues to slow. Over the last decade, growth moved west and north facilitating the formation of commuter towns such as Ladyville and
Why Belize City?
Burrell Boom (IDOM, 2017). These communities function as suburbs of Belize City since the citizens travel daily into the city to work or school. Although Belize City remains the city centre, the greater metropolitan area has developed a multi-nodal pattern, redirecting development away from the urban core. Consequently, the developed area within the City limits has doubled over the past 25 years due to this urban sprawl (IDOM, 2017).
The slowing of population growth in Belize Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s downtown challenges the primacy of the City. As residents continue moving away from Belize City, the commuter and satellite towns around Belize City are experiencing incredible population growth. A historic urban growth analysis showed that in 1970, Belize City represented 78 percent of the Belize District population; and by 2010, it represented only 60 percent, as the satellite towns grew more rapidly than Belize City (IDOM, 2017). Moreover, entirely new communities
linked to the main highways have appeared during recent decades, such as the communities of 8 Miles and Los Lagos. Despite the draw of business, employment and shopping opportunities, the downtown area sees fewer residents. This results in a shrinking tax base and empty or abandoned structures that become neglected or underutilized, and public spaces quickly become unsafe, much to the dismay of current residents. 25
Evolution of urban footprint: Belize City Urban Scale
Why Belize City?
Legend 1925 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2006 2015
Evolution of urban footprint: Belize City - Urban Scale density [Inh/ha] 107
urban footprint [ha] 140
note: 1 hectare = 2.47 acres 28
Why Belize City?
annual growth rate of urban footprint 6.1%
POPULATION DENSITY IN THE URBAN SCALE STUDY AREA (CURRENT TREND SCENARIO)
Why Belize City?
Legend Inhab./ha. <7
7 - 14
14 - 21
21 - 28
Urban footprint: Belize City - Metropolitan Scale
Why Belize City?
Total area of urban footprint 2015:
Urban footprint: Belize City -
Why Belize City?
population [Inh] 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2006
density [Inh/ha] 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2006
POPULATION DENSITY IN THE METROPOLITAN SCALE STUDY AREA (CURRENT TREND SCENARIO)
Why Belize City?
Legend Inhab./ha. <7
7 - 14
14 - 21
21 - 28
0 51 54
Santa Marta, Colombia
Santiago, Dominican Republic
Panama City 46
Joao Pessoa, Brazil
35 40 43
Belize City, Belize
Comparison of Urban Densities
of Select ESC Cities Gross density (Inh/ha)
Why Belize City?
Ladyville has tripled in less than
average annual growth
(1991 - 2000)
in the last intercensal period
average annual growth
2000 and 2010
of the satellite towns of
hattieville burrell boom
12.33% 7.33% and
Legend main urban roads Secondary urban roads canals and creeks
Water in belize city
Natural Ecosystems The symbiotic relationship between Belize City and its water systems highlights the importance of the area’s natural ecosystem. Wetlands comprise nearly 40 percent of Belize City’s metropolitan geographic surface (IDOM, 2017). Important local water assets include Haulover Creek, Belize River, West and East Collet Canals, Burdon Canal and Faber’s Lagoon. These waterways provide recreational and economic development opportunities, but its geography also leaves Belize City exposed to hurricanes, and the City has been struck repeatedly, resulting in loss of life and property.
Why Belize City?
Within the area’s natural ecosystems are mangroves. They provide durable protection from storms and hurricanes, not only from the winds coming off the sea, but also from wave action, possible erosion and storm surge. The wide, tall, dense and complicated aerial root systems of the mangroves are effective in coastline management and provide a natural defence to coastal storms. Unfortunately, over time the mangroves have been removed to offer better visual and physical access to the sea or for development purposes, as the demand for land continues to grow. The City’s unplanned growth is a key driver in the degradation of natural areas, particularly the mangrove swamps that protect Belize City from storms and flooding. 41
EVOLUTION OF MANGROVE AREA (square miles)
Why Belize City?
Why Belize City?
Natural Areas: Belize City
Legend green areas Mangrove and littoral forest bodies of water
The Way Forward Belize City plays an important role as the urban anchor for the entire country. From natural beauty to the colourful architecture to cuisine and culture, Belize City has all the makings of a vibrant urban environment. However, it is under constant threat by several factors. With proper planning it can grow sustainably, but only with the adequate physical and social infrastructure to meet the needs of its population. And to maintain its position, sustainable practices, smart policies, and strategic plans must be prioritized. The foundation for the Action Plan is the diagnostic studies and their analyses that prioritize the important and challenging issues facing Belize City. Finally, the plan provides the fundamental guidance and proposed action items that can ensure that Belize City will endure and prosper as the economic, cultural and historical heart of Belize. This Action Plan will provide critical steps intended to maximize City assets and allow the diverse communities invested in Belize City the ability to rediscover and reconnect to all that Belize City has to offer. 46
Why Belize City?
Several priority areas and topics have been identified to help guide Belize City on to a path of sustainable development.
Synopsis of Diagnostic Studies
The main studies are outlined below:
Climate Change Mitigation Study This study reveals the impact of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions on the study area and administrative boundaries. The study finds that Belize City and the wider metropolitan area emit lower levels of carbon emissions in comparison to other cities within Latin America. While Belize City has one of the lowest emissions in the region, the study asserts that the City still needs to consider the impacts of future climate changes. Several priority areas and topics have been identified to help guide Belize City on to a path of sustainable development. For Belize City, the ESC methodology provided a way to identify these priorities using four stages: data collection, analysis and diagnosis, prioritization through different filters (environmental, economic, public opinion, experience of sector specialists), and the elaboration of this action plan. The diagnostic section of this action plan delves deeper into the results of the process that led to these priority areas and addresses associated challenges before offering action items in the next section. A set of studies were commissioned to provide information needed for identifying actions to reduce contributions to climate change, mitigate vulnerability to natural hazards, and grow sustainably. These studies were completed for Belize City, and complemented with other sectoral reports. The goal of these studies is to provide Belize City with crucial information for evidence-based decision-making. Using a holistic and integrated approach, the three baseline studies provided a thorough analysis of various issues facing Belize City and were used as a basis for the recommendations of the action plan.
Disaster Risk and Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment This report analyses the risk Belize City faces from natural hazards, including climate change. A present-day situation as well as two different urban growth scenarios (current trend and smart scenarios), are reviewed for different climate change projections (2030 and 2050). The assessment reveals the reoccurring impacts of flooding are a result from riverine flooding, coastal storm surge as well as intense seasonal rainfall. Reoccurring flooding impacts the Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s stormwater infrastructure by testing its capacity to handle all scales of flood events, highlighting the importance of improving mitigation for future events.
Urban Growth Study This study provides a historical account of the development of Belize City and its projected long-term growth scenarios and discusses the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s existing issues, challenges to urban growth and models future growth scenarios. The study identifies several areas of concern, especially how the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s growth pattern is affecting natural areas, housing affordability, and mobility throughout Belize City. 51
Other reports and surveys were conducted to help inform the priority areas and the action items that will be discussed in the following sections. This includes:
Public opinion survey
Land use analysis and proposed policy framework
City branding and local economic development study
Solid waste study
Citizen Security study 52
Synopsis of Diagnostic Studies
Public Opinion Survey The goal of the Public Opinion Survey is to identify the topics that the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s residents consider to be most problematic. Therefore, the contents of the survey cover the key issues of interest included in the ESC methodology: climate change mitigation, vulnerability and natural risks and urban growth. From February 29 to March 11, 2016, 1200 surveys were administered to residents of Belize City, including five internal divisions: North Centre, South Centre, North Expansion, South Expansion and Ladyville & Lordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bank. These divisions can be seen in the adjacent map. City residents 18 years of age or older answered 223 questions conducted through face-to-face interviews. Only one of-age member from each household was surveyed. 53
ESC Public Opinion and Perceptions Survey for Belize City: Main Conclusions Related to Important Topics Affecting Quality of Life Sanitation and
drainage Only 52.3 percent of the households are connected to the public sewer network. The North and South Centre areas reported coverage rates of over 91 percent. However, the South and North Expansion areas reported coverage rates of below 34 percent. 78.3 percent of the households suffer from flooding. In 12.1 percent of the areas exposed to flooding, water reaches the houses. 54
Mitigation of climate change Of the surveyed residents, 50.9 percent perceive that extreme weather events occur more frequently than before. Of those surveyed, 68.7 percent perceive that climate change influences extreme weather events in the area.
Of the surveyed residents, 40 percent reported an occurrence of high levels of noise near their homes at least once every week. South Centre was the area where a higher proportion of households reported frequent noise problems: 61.7 percent declare annoying noises at least once a week. In contrast, just 7 percent of the households in North Expansion reported annoying noise at least once a week.
Synopsis of Diagnostic Studies
Vulnerability to natural disasters Belizeans consider themselves and their families to be more ready to solve any natural disaster crisis than the main institutions (local and national government, hospitals, firefighters and police) to deal with natural disasters.
Land use, planning
Of surveyed households, 39.2 percent reported financial difficulties paying for food and 44.7 percent reported financial difficulties paying utility bills at any time in the past year. There are significant inequalities among the different City areas. Of those surveyed, 59.1 percent of the households own their house, 27.4 percent are in rental accommodation and 5.9 percent live in family housing. There is a general level of satisfaction with the quality and affordability of housing.
Only 16.7 percent of surveyed residents reported that a member of their household visited a public space in their neighbourhood at least once a week. The usage of public spaces can be linked to their adequacy, and the perception of the level of maintenance and safety. Of the surveyed residents, 68 percent reported being aware of the requirement of building permits, while 73.8 percent agreed with the idea that it is necessary to regulate land use.
There appears to be a balanced use of the different modes of transportation in the city: 36.6 percent travel by bus, 22.8 percent by car, 15.4 percent on foot and 13.8 percent by bicycle. The average length of trips in the City is 20 minutes, and 56.1 percent use public transport at least once a week. Of those surveyed, 14.4 percent reported that some member of their household had been involved in a traffic accident in Belize City in the previous 5 years.
Employment Of the surveyed residents, 40.8 percent reported that they were employed, 20.3 percent self-employed, 14.8 percent unemployed and looking for a job and 23.3 percent unemployed but not looking for a job. Unemployment affects to a greater extent females (18 percent), young population (19.9 percent), residents in North Centre (20.2 percent) and households with lower income (19 percent).
Public Safety In the South Expansion, 57.7 percent reported a perception of insecurity in their neighbourhood, while 55.4 percent reported a perception of insecurity in South Centre. In contrast, only 12.8 percent of residents in North Expansion consider their neighbourhood unsafe. Residents report a moderate degree of confidence in the police. 55
Through an extensive review process using ESC methodology, as well as utilizing valuable input from civil society representatives and the BCC, several priority areas affecting Belize City have been identified.
Priority Areas Through an extensive review process using ESC methodology, as well as utilizing valuable input from civil society representatives and the BCC, several priority areas affecting Belize City have been identified. The 23 areas were analysed through five filters and prioritized based on which topics pose the greatest challenge to sustainability. The top priority areas are:
Priority Area FOUR
Vulnerability and Climate Change
Sanitation: Drainage and Solid waste
Employment, Education, and Citizen Security
Priority Area tHREE mobility
It is proposed that each of the priority areas must be incorporated into a comprehensive plan for Belize City. All these issues are interrelated and if the application of urban planning best practices and strategic capacity-building efforts are implemented, Belize City can successfully address these priority areas and enjoy the benefits of long-term growth and sustainability. 59
Priority Area ONE
Vulnerability to Natural Disasters and Climate Change
Several factors contribute to Belize City’s increasing vulnerability to natural disasters and the symptoms of climate change. Some of these factors are outside the City’s control to address, such as sea level rise and the increased frequency and severity of storms. However, increasing vulnerability of the city happens when there is illegal clearing of mangroves, poor drainage infrastructure for stormwater, and/or unplanned development in flood prone areas. Individually, these elements can contribute to city-wide flooding, but given that many of these factors are related or symptomatic of each other, their combined impact citywide could be significant if not addressed. Flooding The City’s location along the coast makes it highly vulnerable to flooding, especially during extreme weather events. The primary drivers of urban floods in Belize City are intense and short duration rainfall, river overtopping (rainfall across the Belize River catchment) and rising sea level. During coastal storms, high tides may generate localized flooding which exacerbates storm surge and the potential for damage from wave action. With sea levels projected to rise, the impact of the storm surges will become more severe, leading to more extreme flooding hazards that threaten the City. Belize City’s stormwater and flooding issues are also connected to its ad-hoc development patterns. Unplanned development exacerbates flooding in several ways. First, it compromises the ability of the natural
environment to provide protection from flooding by destroying the mangroves and littoral forest. Mangroves protect coastlines from erosion, while the littoral forest and wetlands absorb water and drain it before it runs off into urbanized areas. These natural systems stabilize the coastline and protect urbanized areas from storm surge and wave action. Second, unplanned development increases the amount of land that is covered by impervious surfaces (pavement or concrete) which causes water that falls on these areas to runoff, causing flooding and scouring of the land. Third, development undertaken without coordination causes new development to be inadequately served by stormwater management infrastructure, thus creating new flooding in these areas. Finally, haphazard land uses reduce the efficiency of both natural and man-made systems to provide the services for which they were designed. Urban expansion (also referred to as urban sprawl) towards more rural and natural areas reinforces inefficient land use patterns, which can cause several infrastructure challenges. A benefit of residing in an urban centre, such as Belize City, is that there is often a high concentration of critical infrastructure, making it easier for residents to access public services like running water, electricity and drainage networks. When people move away from these urban areas, they risk losing access to these network connections. It is extremely costly and time consuming to expand coverage to rural areas, despite demand.
The Cost of Suburbanization and Services: An example from Halifax, Canada
Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Annual cost, per household (Canadian Dollars)
Parks and recreation
Storm & Waste Water
Transfers to Provinces eg. School Boards
Culture / Economy
Sidewalks & Curbs
Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Annual cost, per household (Canadian Dollars)
Parks and recreation
Storm & Waste Water
Transfers to Provinces eg. School Boards
Culture / Economy
Sidewalks & Curbs
Source: thecostofsprawl.com 61
Ladyville/ Lordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bank
Public Opinion on Basic Services in the Study Area
basic services piped water public sewer
Ladyville/ Lordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bank
What is Hazard Mitigation? In general, hazard mitigation refers to efforts undertaken before an event to reduce or eliminate the risks from natural hazards that may impact human life and property. These efforts focus on preventing disasters or reducing the probability and severity of their impacts by taking action before the event occurs. Mitigation approaches tend to take two forms: structural and non-structural. Structural Generally thought of as engineering solutions such as dams, levees and seawalls Non-structural Policy-related solutions focusing on land use planning and management to limit development in hazardous areas and provide passive protection through the provision of environmental services Once mitigation forms are in place, there is no action that needs to happen before an event occurs (Hicks Masterson, et al., 2014). Typically, non-structural solutions are more cost-effective than structural solutions, but both types of mitigation techniques are needed in Belize City.
Currently, rain events produce water depths in excess of 11.8 inches (30 centimetres) several times a year throughout Belize City. For a relatively common 10 year flood event, 48 percent of the total population is affected in varying degrees, from minor nuisance flooding to complete evacuation from their homes. This number skyrockets to 90.3 percent in a 500-year event, the highest percentage of all the ESC cities. The frequency with which flooding occurs is inconvenient for residents and impacts their daily routine, from patronizing local businesses to keeping children from attending school. While the severity and frequency of events vary, communities remain vulnerable to flooding and still lack strategies to mitigate against future events, keeping them from fully recovering.
What is a return period anyway? A return period describes the magnitude and potential hazard of floods, as well as other hydrologic events like storms and droughts. It refers to the amount of time that passes on average between consecutive events of similar magnitude for a given location (Oleson, 2015). For example, a 100-year flood is â&#x20AC;&#x153;a flood level with a 1 percent chance of being equalled or exceeded in any given yearâ&#x20AC;? (U.S. Geological Survey, 2017). It does not refer to a flood that occurs once every 100 years. The concept of the return period is one of the most confusing and misunderstood terms used to describe the impact and frequency of floods.
10 Year return period flood map for the current situation
Legend Depth (FT) for 10 - years return period Current situation 0.7 - 1.6
1.6 - 3.3
3.3 - 9.8
9.8 - 16.4
Priority Areas In Belize City, extreme events (100 to 500 years of return period) can induce water depths of 6-9 feet (2-3 metres), overwhelming infrastructure such as roads, drainage systems, schools and hospitals. Severe flooding may last for days or weeks and storm surge from coastal storms may cause wave action, resulting in damage to structures and infrastructure. Associated high winds can cause damage to roofs, signs, windows, etc. In these instances, the Belize Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coastal defence structure becomes unreliable, resulting in flooding in the inner parts of the city. While fatalities are rare, there are long term impacts on physical and mental health, productivity and quality of life.
100 Year return period flood map for the current situation
Legend Depth (FT) for 100 - years return period Current situation 0.7 - 1.6
1.6 - 3.3
3.3 - 9.8
9.8 - 16.4
16.4 - 23
As would be expected, the greater the flooding event return period, the greater the number of people affected, especially in the high population density areas located south of Belize City. For a 100-year return period flood, the entire city as well as surrounding rural areas will experience flooding too.
100 Year return period flood map for the current TREND SCENARIO (year 2050, RCP 8.5)
Legend Depth (FT) for 100 years return period Current Trend Scenario 0.7 - 1.6
1.6 - 3.3
3.3 - 9.8
9.8 - 16.4
16.4 - 23
Priority Areas Higher water depths are more likely to be found in the low-lying parts of the city (Faberâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Road, Holy Emmanuel Street, Orange Street, Queen Street, Hydeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Lane, Freetown Road, Belama and Bella Vista) and the river basin and lagoons belonging to the river drainage system (natural and man-made). The area of the Western and Northern Highway, which belongs to the natural drainage system of the river, appears to be very susceptible to floods on a regular basis as well.
Climate Change: More Storms and Rising Seas Climate change is an important factor in contributing to Belize Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vulnerability to natural disasters and hazards. The annual wet season coincides with hurricane season (June 1-November 30). While flooding from rain events is the most common natural hazard for Belize City, global changes in the Earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s climate indicate more frequent and intense weather events presenting significant challenges. Another consequence of climate change is sea level rise which increases flood severity and frequency, meaning flooding will impact more people. The rapid expansion of Belize City in low lying and natural areas threatens to put more people at risk. Common events (every 10 years) affect around 50 percent of the total population, while a more improbable one (every 50 years) would affect 90 percent of the population. 74
What is Climate Change? According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (2017), “climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, that occur over several decades or longer”. These changes are the result of shifts in the composition of the earth’s atmosphere due to increased emission of greenhouse gases and changes in land use. An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report, published in 2014 (Magrin, et al., 2014) states that the main impacts associated with climate change are those related to an increase in temperature; a decrease in overall precipitation as well as shifts in seasonal precipitation averages where some areas experience drought, while others experience more frequent and heavy rainfall; a decrease in river flows; a decrease in forest cover and an increase in disease vectors. Small island development states (SIDS), many of which are found in the Caribbean, have characteristics that make them especially vulnerable to climate change, such as sea level rise, vulnerability to coastal hazards and challenges to adaptation. And while bearing the brunt of climate change, SIDS are not the main driver. China, the United States,
European Union and India emit more carbon dioxide than any other countries in the world and are the main contributors to climate change (Friedrich, Ge, & Pickens, 2017). Of all the impacts, sea level rise is the most relevant threat of climate change for SIDS. In the Caribbean basin, it is projected that the change of sea level in 2081-2100 compared to 1986-2005 will be in a range of 1.6 to 2 feet (0.5 to 0.6 metres) (Nurse, et al., 2014). This may lead to coastal erosion, permanent or temporal inundation and changes in the shoreline. Most of the assets, settlements, infrastructure, etc., in the SIDS are in low-lying areas and are highly vulnerable to extreme tides, waves and surge events. Furthermore, population growth, economic development and urbanization will increase significantly the population and assets projected to be exposed to coastal risks. While Belize is not an island, its low-lying coastline along the Caribbean Sea coupled with its probability of extreme weather events make it vulnerable to climate change. Additionally, Belize City has been experiencing many of the impacts mentioned above and it could be argued that Belize City’s struggle with flooding and constant exposure to severe weather events indicate that it is already feeling the impacts of climate change.
Economic Impact and Loss of Life
More than 47,000 inhabitants live in lands affected by frequent flooding, the highest figures of all the ESC cities. Currently, the average annual economic damages in Belize City have been estimated at US$2.75M of which US$2M relate to residential property and the remaining (US$0.75M) to direct and indirect damages on critical infrastructure. Impacts increase in the 2050 scenario, as economic losses are expected to increase 460 percent, reaching an average annual damage of US$12.76M, human losses also become higher, but the fatality index will remain stable at about 4 fatalities per million people per year. These figures are associated with the current trend scenario illustrated by sea level rise due to climate change, and by the development trends that are expected to linger if current trends continue. Flooding events have historically plagued the city, but residents are noticing an uptick in frequency. According to the Public Opinion
Survey, 50.9 percent of residents surveyed think extreme weather events occur more frequently than before and 68.7 percent believe that climate change affects extreme weather events in the area. Further, when residents were asked “Has the area where you live ever been flooded?”, 78 percent of people answered yes, and 25 percent of people reported that their urban area floods every time it rains. Of those living in Ladyville, 64 percent of those surveyed reported that their neighbourhood floods every time it rains. In fact, 63.9 percent of surveyed Belizeans considered themselves to be ready to address natural disasters while only 31.8 percent considered the police to be ready to deal with natural disasters. Although residents consider “storms and heavy rains” as a top issue affecting their quality of life, residents of Belize City also consider themselves and their own family better prepared to address any natural disaster crisis.
flooding exposed population by return period. current situation.
exposed / affected
% of the total
AFFECTED POPULATION (INHAB./HA.) DUE TO 10 YEARS RETURN PERIOD FLOOD (current situation)
Legend Exposed population/ha <0.5
1.5 - 2
0.5 - 1
2 - 3
1 - 1.5
note: 1 Ha = 2.47 acres 77
AFFECTED POPULATION (INHAB./HA.) DUE TO 100 YEARS RETURN PERIOD FLOOD (current situation)
Legend Exposed population/ha
0.5 - 1
1 - 1.5
1.5 - 2
2 - 3
note: 1 Ha = 2.47 acres
Mangroves: Natural drainage and a natural barrier Classified as natural lands, mangroves have historically played a role as natural barriers, essential to the ecological makeup of the Belize City coastline and rivers. Sadly, the value of the wetlands, water bodies and ecosystems that coexist within the city are not completely appreciated. With increasing frequency, illegal settlements are being built in mangrove and swamp areas, some of the most physically vulnerable areas of the city, placing already socially marginalized and vulnerable communities in an even more perilous position. Mangrove and littoral forests within Belize City area are decreasing. According to a 2010 Report commissioned by the IDB that included an environmental assessment of the natural environment, 69 percent of mangroves have disappeared since 1969.
According to a land use analysis of satellite imagery, the mangrove and littoral forests of Belize District are the most threatened category of lands, having been reduced by 29 percent between 1987 and 2014. Continual development of the coastline has altered the natural environment, undermining its ability to protect the coast. Piers, boardwalks and other manipulations of the coast, while perhaps necessary to enable the development of retail and commercial areas, have diminished the root systems of the mangroves, and have allowed additional erosion to take place. Over the past decade, mangrove areas have been removed to accommodate urban uses. This is apparent in Belize City, where mangroves are removed to build new housing developments and commercial centres.
Comparison between land use areas in ACRES 450000
250000 200000 150000 100000
Increase in areas for each land use 120%
80% mangrove and littoral forest
40% 20% 0
The Importance of Mangroves BELIZE
Mangroves have traditionally protected Belizeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coastline. Mangroves provide remarkably durable protection, not only from the winds coming off the sea, but also from the action of the waves. The root systems of the mangroves essentially offer a web or net to retain soil and prevent erosion. Mangroves protect coastal areas from hazards by reducing the intensity of hazards and decreasing exposure. First, mangroves reduce the height and energy of wind and waves, which cause damage to infrastructure and housing inland. Second, they decrease storm surge water depths and debris movement. Third, they reduce the tsunami height and speed. Fourth, they slow water flows, reducing erosion and enhancing sedimentation. Fifth, they cause high rates of sediment input. The wide, tall, dense and complicated aerial root systems of the mangroves are effective in coastline management.
A 1989 amendment to the Forest Act provided for the protection of national mangroves, making it illegal to alter any mangrove in the jurisdictional waters of Belize without first obtaining a permit from the Forest Department. This applies to both privately owned lands and public lands. There are several reasons mangroves are protected: they play a crucial role in the ecology of the aquatic systems along the coast, they provide protective functions and mitigate destructive forces of hurricanes and other natural disasters, and they are home to a diverse community of plants and animals, including fish and other species, while also providing an aesthetic beauty that is engrained into the identity of Belize City. Currently the mangrove areas in the Greater Belize City study area occupy a total of 10,094 acres (4,085 hectares), however 79.3 acres (32.1 hectares) of residential urban footprint are affected by the existence of mangroves that are protected by law. Yet, while the amendment has slowed destruction of the mangrove, it has not fully protected it from destruction, nor does it mandate restoration of the mangrove forests (IDOM, 2017).
Priority Area two
Sanitation: Drainage Network and Solid Waste Management
Continuous construction and development projects focused on improving the canal system have been effective in mitigating flooding within the catchment areas, yet a lack of maintenance has compromised the ability of the canals to function at full capacity. Keeping the canals clean of garbage is critical to ensure they can function effectively. While the Public Opinion Survey indicates a moderately-high level of satisfaction with public services including water, sewage and sanitation, a large majority of residents also report past difficulty with flooding, indicating that the drainage and stormwater management system is not adequate to prevent flooding in Belize City. As mentioned previously, nearly 80 percent of residents have experienced flooding in their neighbourhoods. Areas of new development report higher proportions experiencing flooding, indicating that capital investment in infrastructure is not keeping up with new development, and that as the city grows, residents can expect more problems with flooding. 84
Drainage Network One of Belize’s City’s signature infrastructure networks is the canal system. The canal system plays a critical role in Belize City’s ability to manage stormwater. The canals lower the water tables and offset stormwater, mitigating flooding. During the 1990s, new canals were constructed under the World Bank-funded Belize City Infrastructure Projects (1992-1998) as were a series of drainage and street improvement projects implemented by the Government. Belize City was hit by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and then Hurricane Keith in 2000, highlighting the susceptibility of the city to increasingly frequent extreme events which can overwhelm the stormwater management system.
History of Tropical Storms and Hurricanes in Belize Belize has been hit by several tropical storms and hurricanes, many of which have caused significant damage. From 1990 to 2008 alone, Belize has suffered estimated annual losses of 3.94 percent of the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual GDP due to weather events (severe winds, rains and surges). Damages are much greater when a category 3-4 hurricane hits Belize but even tropical storms can wreak havoc.
Sept 1931: Belize City was hit by an unnamed Category 3 hurricane that caused more than 2,000 deaths among the Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population of 16,000. Oct 1961: Hurricane Hattie struck the City causing the greatest financial cost from natural disaster in Belize to date and resulted in moving the capital from Belize City to Belmopan. Sept-Oct 2000: Total losses due to Hurricane Keith in 2000 were estimated to be over BZ$560M/ US$283M. Oct 2001: Hurricane Iris had estimated damages over BZ$400M/ US$203M. Oct 2008: Tropical Depression No. 16 caused widespread rainfall and flooding across Belize, causing significant damage to road infrastructure, housing, and the agriculture and tourism sectors and total economic cost was estimated to be over BZ$54M/US$27M. Oct 2010: Hurricane Richardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strong winds and storm surge hit Belize City, with a reported 832 homes damaged or destroyed and an estimated 192,000 people affected in total. The total direct losses were estimated to be over BZ$50M, or roughly US$25M. 85
main hurricanes that have affected the country, 1931 - 2012. year
5 - 8 June
October 22 / November 9
September 28 / October 6
10 - 16 October
Storm Five Storm Two Storm Four Storm Four Storm Ten Storm Ten Storm Ten Janet Abby Anna Hattie Francelia Edith Laura Carmen Fif i Greta Mitch Keith Chantal Iris Dean Arthur Tropical Depression 16 Earthquake Richard Alex Karl Matthew Harvey Ernesto
75 85 80
70 175 70 70 180 95 90 60 130 95 115 155 120 70 145 165 40
5 TS TS 5 1 1 TS 3 2 3 4 3 ···
4 5 TS
Urbanized lands have almost doubled between 1987 and 2014, growing from approximately 1.38 percent (11,013 acres/4,4570 hectares) in 1987 to 2.53 percent (20,137 acres/8,149 hectares) in 2014, an expansion of roughly an increase of 83 percent. In a roughly similar timeframe (1991 to 2010), the population has increased only 40 percent (IDOM, 2017). The discrepancy between the population increase and the increase in land consumption indicates an inefficient urban development pattern. The overwhelming demand for land for residential uses has generated alarming changes in both the demand on stormwater infrastructure and the mangrove forests, resulting in an increased vulnerability to flooding. Waste Management According to the Public Opinion Survey (IDOM, 2016), the most frequent problem was sewer system overflows (7.8 percent) followed by sewerage flowing in the streets (5.9 percent). This is especially true in the South side (South Expansion and South Centre), where connectivity to a formal network is limited.
is managed by the respective business, possibly collected by a private service. Traditionally, solid waste was deposited at dumpsites located outside the city and satellite communities. However, thanks to an IDB project, the garbage now goes to transfer stations and is then transported to the regional landfill at mile 24 on the George Price Highway. Some ad-hoc dumpster sites have cropped up on abandoned lots, overgrown areas, and canal and street sides. When waste is dumped in non-permitted sites, such as small open dumpsites or banks of streams and canals, efficient surface water drainage becomes more difficult if not impossible. The drainage system, navigation and use of waterways for recreational purposes also become compromised. Additionally, with limited affordable housing options, waste is also used as landfill material to reclaim swamp and wetlands. Based on the data provided by Belize Solid Waste Management Authorities, from August 2013 to April 2016, the total waste collected in Belize City is
For Belize City as a whole, 52.3 percent of the households are connected to the public sewer network. The North and South side areas reported coverage rates of over 91 percent. Yet the South and North Expansion areas reported coverage rates of below 34 percent, indicating a lack of infrastructure in these rapidly expanding areas. Approximately 44 percent of households that are not connected to the sewer network rely on pit latrines or septic tanks. The overall perception of the city’s sewerage disposal service is “good” or “very good” (55 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively), with 26 percent considering it “average” and only 3.7 percent considering it to be “poor” or “very poor”. The Belize City Council contracts a private company to collect residential waste. Waste from economic activities (commercial, industrial, among others)
1546 tons per month,
or 1.65 pounds (0.75 kg) of waste per day per capita (Statistical Institute of Belize, 2017).
Between 1 and 2 percent of the total amount of waste collected is recycled, or about 24 tons per month. The World Bank (Hoornweg & Bhada-Tata, 2012) reports that in Latin America and the Caribbean, the average waste produced per capita per day is 1.1 kg (2.43 pounds). Given its population, Belize City would be expected to produce approximately 75 tons per day, suggesting that the City is collecting only about two-thirds of the waste produced, leaving the rest to be burned, dumped, or otherwise disposed of. 87
Over 90 percent of Belize City residents report that their garbage is collected by garbage truck, according to the Public Opinion Survey. However, the ESC commissioned report on solid waste management reports that only 68.7 percent of the population receives regular municipal solid waste collection (Rosso, 2016). It is important to note here that the discrepancy arises possibly due to the fact that the survey does not report the number of respondents who dump their garbage in vacant lots, dump sites or “other” methods of disposal, and appears not to include those responses in calculations of percentages, making it impossible to compare these percentages directly. The newer and more remote settlements of Ladyville and Lord’s Bank report a significantly lower proportion of residents (70.6 percent) who use garbage collection, resulting in nearly 25 percent of them burning their garbage instead. Furthermore, roughly 18 percent of the City’s municipal solid waste is disposed of in open dumps, controlled dumps, bodies of water or is burnt, while less than 15 percent of the City’s municipal solid 88
waste is separated and classified. Trash burning, especially when unregulated, is a public health and environmental hazard. A recent study concluded that more than 40 percent of the world’s garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gasses and particles that can substantially affect human health and impact climate change. The pollutants released have been linked to health issues including decreased lung function, neurological disorders, cancer and heart attacks. Burning trash also releases more GHGs into the air, a critical driver of climate change (National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, 2014). To improve public services as well as address sustainability and resilience, a mechanism should be in place that allows BCC to control how waste is treated, recovered, recycled and reused. The average duration of waste collection agreements in cities is six to ten years, to ensure that the collecting company is getting a fair return on investment and that the client is benefiting from the most current waste practices, disposal techniques and management methods.
Priority Area three
Historically, Belize City has been a walkable and bikeable city, but as the urban footprint continues to expand, reliance on private vehicles increases. The proliferation of cars has negatively affected mobility and access to the city. There are two main roads that connect Belize City to the commuter towns: the George Price Highway to Cemetery Road on the South side of the City and the Philip Goldson Highway to Freetown Road on the North side of the city. These routes experi-
ence significant congestion, especially as every vehicle must use one of two bridges to enter the Downtown area: the Haulover Bridge (Northern Highway) or the Burdon Canal Bridge (Western Highway). Those who cannot afford cars (who are often those living in satellite communities) must rely on an inefficient public transportation system; more than half of Belize Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s residents (56.1 percent) use public transport at least once a week.
Satellite communities such as Ladyville and Hattieville are experiencing sharp population growth, resulting in more congestion along routes to Belize City. The percentage of auto-ownership among Ladyville and Lordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bank residents is 40.7 percent, the highest in the entire metropolitan area.
Public Opinion Survey MOBILITY What kind of transportation do you use to move around to go to work, school or any other task you have to complete? (Greater Belize City Area)
According to the Public Opinion Survey, Belize City shows various modes of transportation: 37 percent of overall trips by bus, 23 percent by car, 15 percent on foot and 14 percent by bicycle. As urban growth continues, transportation infrastructure becomes more important. 93
Poor sidewalk infrastructure and maintenance makes walking difficult, according to residents, especially along the arterial roads of the Philip Goldson Highway (Northern Highway) and the George Price Highway (Western Highway). A poorly maintained road network makes mobility difficult in downtown Belize City as well. Streets are peppered with potholes, making it dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. Connectivity is inconsistent due to the canals, creeks and bridges that run through the city. Pedestrians navigate these poor conditions while competing for space with vendors and vehicles on and along the road, threatening their safety. The City Council has made efforts to add traffic signs, pavement mark ups and street lighting throughout the city, which improves safety and security conditions. Incorporating street furniture such as benches and tables, bus shelters and shade would also help to alleviate the challenges and stresses of navigating the downtown area by foot. Efforts to include such characteristics can help promote the creation of â&#x20AC;&#x153;complete streetsâ&#x20AC;?, which are streets designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. This includes pedestrians, motorists, bicyclists and transit users of all ages and abilities. 94
A Case for Complete Streets According to the National Complete Streets Coalition (2018), the complete streets approach integrates people and place in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation networks. This allows streets to be accessible to people of all ages and abilities, while balancing the needs of different modes, and supporting local land uses, economies, cultures and natural environments. Each complete street is designed to reflect the needs of the community and thus includes different features, for example: sidewalks, bike lanes (or wide paved shoulders), special bus lanes, comfortable and accessible public transportation stops, frequent and safe crossing opportunities, accessible pedestrian signals and roundabouts, to name a few. While complete streets may potentially look different, their goals remain the same: to balance safety and convenience for everyone using the road (Smart Growth America, 2018). To learn more about complete streets, access the National Complete Streets Coalition website (https://smartgrowthamerica.org/program/ national-complete-streets-coalition/).
12. (Smart Growth, 2018)
Sustainable transportation is possible for Belize City, especially given its size and topography. There is an opportunity for the city to provide pedestrian and non-motorised transit options through improved sidewalk infrastructure and modal separation. Short distance trips can be made through feeder services such as mini-buses that are able to navigate the city and its narrow streets. There are cost-effective, people-centred solutions that can increase access while also providing alternatives to cars. Examples include tricycle motorcycles as an alternative to taxis, hybrid vehicles, alternative fuel sources and the use of three- and four-cylinder vehicles that consume less fuel. A combination of these options will help to reduce congestion, carbon emission levels and safety concerns for commuters. 97
Priority Area four
City Planning: The Need for an Institutional Framework
In the past, there are have been various development plans and master plans, but there is no integrated comprehensive plan. Land management policies are critical to help control urban sprawl but to also protect and serve residents. Issues like adequate distribution of public spaces, service provision to neighbourhoods, and basic zoning needs are paramount, but a weak institutional and legal framework makes this challenging. Uncontrolled Growth and Housing Settlements The creation of new roads, canals and highways have “induced demand,” by making it possible for people to live further away from the city centre but still commute in to the city for work, school and other trips. This urban expansion has been especially prevalent along the main roads (Northern and Western Highways on the fringe of Belize City). The growth of suburban areas or commuter towns, such as Burrell Boom and the 8 Miles Community along the highways, is generating new peri-urban land (in other words, development that occurs at the edges of existing urban areas), further expanding the city’s footprint and stressing the existing stormwater, sewerage and solid waste infrastructure. 98
Industrial, office, commercial and infrastructure lands are continually growing and clustering in Ladyville and in adjacent suburban areas. The majority of the country’s population is settled within the Belize District, but as of 2010, Belize City represents only 18 percent of the national population. Satellite towns and small communities (Ladyville, Burrell Boom, Hattieville, 8 Miles Community) have emerged during recent decades. The population of Ladyville, Hattieville and Burrell Boom represented 5.5 percent of Belize District in 1991 and it increased to 10.5 percent in 2010. Residential growth continues to extend outwards from Belize City, along the Northern and Western highways. However, most people living in those satellite towns enter Belize City for work and daily tasks. Large tracts of vacant land remain empty within Belize City while new settlements are developed within the commuter towns. Rapid urbanization has contributed to the development of neighbourhoods with substandard conditions. Informal housing settlements in Belize City are mostly located on public lands usually within ecologically sensitive landscapes such as mangrove and wetlands, putting residents in danger when there is flooding. Informal settlements represent 3.49 percent of Belize City’s urban footprint, housing approximately 3.7 percent of the Belize City population.
Characteristics of Low-Income Residential Areas
Legend Low-income residential urban morphology
Total of Belize City urban footprint
areas with regular
areas settled on mangrove area Informal settlements
Bodies of water
Total population of Belize City 99
Evolution of the Urban Footprint - Belize City Metropolitan Scale
Legend 1841 1925 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2006 2015
These residential areas are characterized by a lack of basic facilities and services: access for pedestrians and cars, street lighting, open spaces, potable water and metered electricity. Coordinated efforts to regulate land uses, manage growth and enforce building codes that protect health and safety can help provide housing opportunities in areas that are adequately served by infrastructure, provide access to employment and shopping districts, reduce reliance on the automobile and reduce vulnerability to flooding. Social housing programs, home renovation programs and self-help programs are needed to address the current and future needs. Integrated into this issue is the lack of critical infrastructure that increases the settlementsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; risk to flooding and hinders decent living conditions. Regarding better planning and regulation, there appears to be significant support: when asked if they think it is necessary to regulate where certain types of businesses or even residences may locate, 73.8 percent of respondents to the Public Opinion Survey agreed that it is necessary to regulate where certain types of business or residents may locate in the City. A comprehensive plan allows the City to manage growth and land development. Uncoordinated growth represents an unnecessary, inefficient and unsustainable extension
of the footprint, resulting in an increase in service costs, congestion, pollution, as well as destruction of natural and environmentally sensitive areas, which compromise resilience to natural hazards. Downtown Revitalization As people choose to settle further away from the downtown area, the city centre loses its residential functions, creating an increase in neglected and abandoned buildings. This includes some of the cultural and historical heritage sites like the colonial style houses along Cork Street, Fort Street and Southern Foreshore Street, which are falling into disrepair. The location of these sites makes them ideal for revitalization, but a dwindling population and decreasing densities make these opportunities difficult to realize. Increases in vacant and abandoned prop erties are generally associated with increases in criminal activities. Belize City will continue being the main activity hub during the day, with fewer people living in the area. Programs that facilitate maintenance and upkeep of properties, monitor vacancies, enforce building codes and address crime can slow this transition and encourage reinvestment by private property owners and other municipal agencies. 103
Coordination, Communication and Capacity Building Some important plans and programmes with impacts on the study area have been identified, including the Belize City Development Plan (1997), Master Plan for Belize City (2011), Comprehensive National Transportation Master Plan for Belize (2018), National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan for Belize 2030 (2011) and Downtown Rejuvenation Project (2013). While these efforts are important, they have not incorporated land management of the newer areas of the city, nor zoning that can be enforced to implement these plans. When implementing plans and policies, there is a need for coordination and communication between national and local levels. National and local building codes are not uniform, which creates problems when an application must be submitted at each level. Efforts to achieve consistency and streamline procedures will pay dividends in the quantity and quality of construction and development.
Currently, the BCC has started to create land use frameworks and land use maps. A land use plan will serve as an official policy guide for Belize City when making decisions about investments and permits that impact physical development within city limits. It establishes a physical framework for future growth for public and private investors by identifying major policies concerning the type and location of future development. This land use plan offers a long-range development plan of 20 to 25 years - an acknowledgement of the long-term impact of land development decisions and the high economic and social costs that are often associated with bringing about changes in land use. It identifies the general parameters for the type and location of development as a guide for more specific planning efforts, decisions about proposed uses and the application of land development regulations. This will be an important tool in controlling Belize Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sprawling development.
Priority Area five
Climate Change is any significant change in the climate lasting for an extended period of time, particularly with relation to temperature, precipitation or wind patterns over a period. The result is the altering in the composition of the earth’s atmosphere due to increased emission of GHGs (atmospheric gases that absorb radiation) and changes in land use. The primary causes of emissions of GHGs are from cars, power plants and other manmade sources. These gases trap the sun’s warmth near the earth’s surface which affects our climate. Everyone is responsible for climate change impacts. One of the best ways to measure the impact is a GHG emissions inventory. According to the International Panel on Climate Change (Magrin, et al., 2014), GHG and land use change are key drivers of global warming. Cities are responsible for between 60 and 70 percent of global GHG emissions associated with consumption. 106
The per capita GHG emissions balance in Belize District in 2014 amounted to -7.70 t of CO2e per inhabitant. While this figure is lower than in other ESC cities, it is consistent with other Caribbean cities. Nevertheless, improvement is needed; changes to land use can accelerate climate change, and Belize City’s haphazard growth is rapidly changing the land use in the metropolitan area. Energy in Transportation The city continues to expand, and residents are increasingly relying on private cars, which increase GHG emissions. In conjunction with strategies mentioned in the mobility section, reducing import duties on fuel-efficient vehicles should be pursued. The benefits from this subsidy will then be a reduction of fossil fuel consumption, a better position from which to bargain for carbon trading permits, as well as the reduction of diseases and other public health concerns.
What is GHG?
The gases in the atmosphere that absorb radiation are known as â&#x20AC;&#x153;greenhouse gasesâ&#x20AC;? (GHGs) because they are largely responsible for the greenhouse effect and global warming. A greenhouse gas is any gaseous compound that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere. By increasing the heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases contribute to global warming. While some say that global warming is a natural process and that there have always been greenhouse gases, the amount of gases in the atmosphere has skyrocketed in recent history (Lallanilla, 2015). GHG is one of the key drivers of climate change. Cities are responsible for 60 to 70 percent of global GHG emissions associated with consumption. As a rule, industry is increasing environmental awareness and moderating their emissions, whereas some sectors such as transport, waste management, and residential and commercial uses are demonstrating a reverse trend. These are called diffuse sectors and are normally related to urban dynamics. For these reasons, cities play a key role in climate change mitigation.
emissions by sector and type of ghg (t CO2e) 400,000 CO2
GHG and Land Use Due to the increase in new development, urban expansion increases GHG emissions. At the same time, it also decreases the natural environmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to absorb GHGs. When assessing the costs and benefits of new development, the destruction of the littoral forest and mangrove and the associated loss of the environmental services provided by them should be considered. Furthermore, while cities account for a significant proportion of GHG emissions, land-based industries such as agriculture and forestry account for larger proportions of emissions, especially in less urbanized countries. As part of the climate change baseline, the inventory on agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) was assessed. As shown in the adjacent graphic, AFOLU accounted for 68 percent of total GHG emissions. Within this sector, the land use change has the highest impact in terms of GHG emissions, representing 56.38 percent of the emissions in this sector. Emissions analysis by source show that the highest level of emissions is associated with land use change, with the second highest level of emissions tied to the mobility sectorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s
diesel and gasoline consumption. As shown in the adjacent graph (GHG Emission by type of emission), findings reveal that land use change is the main source of emissions, followed by combustion and electricity. These results demonstrate the need for policies and actions to control and reduce energy consumption, GHG emissions and ultimately the impact of climate change on Belize City. Several methods can be achieved at the local scale such as supporting and enforcing laws that conserve mangroves, encouraging and supporting densification, improving waste collection and reducing car dependency. Belize City is in a strong position to address GHG-related challenges as the public shares a general concern about the impact of climate change. GHG and Alternative Fuel Sources Transportation accounted for 22 percent of total GHG emissions. Diesel and gasoline consumption were the most important contributors to GHG in this sector, but jet kerosene and aviation gasoline have a high contribution as well. The stationary energy sector, which includes the residential, commercial,
Agriculture, forestry and fishing energy Transportation energy
Manufacturing industries energy
institutional and industrial sub-sectors, accounted for 9.36 percent of total GHG emissions. Diesel, liquefied petroleum gas and electricity consumption were the most important contributors to GHG in this sector. Within this sector, the industrial sub-sector has the highest impact in terms of GHG emissions, representing 47.17 percent of the emissions of the stationary energy sector, or 4.41 percent of the total emissions for Belize District. The remaining sectors, including waste, wastewater, and industrial processes and product use (IPPU) account for less than one percent of total emissions. BioGas is an alternative energy source to propane and butane. Government incentives to import these fuel sources will create new markets and a general creation of jobs to support the distribution and retailing of these fuels. Enhancing the market for bio-waste through a wastewater treatment plant by taking the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s existing solid waste and creating energy shall further mitigate the GHG emission output. With proper planning, climate change can be turned into an opportunity: an opportunity to develop and transform cities into eco-efficient, low-carbon societies, with less dependence on external energy resources and less vulnerability to atmospheric phenomena.
ghg EMISSIONS BY SECTOR IN 2014 (%t CO2e)
GHG EMISSIONS BY type IN 2014 (%t CO2e)
electricity enteric fermentation
and manure Land use
22% Land use change
Priority Area six
Employment, Education and Citizen Security
According to the National Statistics Instituteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Labour Force Surveys, unemployment fell to 9.4 percent in April 2018, down from 9.7 percent in September 2017 and from 11 percent a year earlier (Statistical Institute of Belize, 2019). Unemployment affects, to a greater extent, females, the youth and households with a lower income. Unemployment is expected to remain high, as construction activity has slowed. Job prospects are best in the tourism sector, but opportunities will remain concentrated in certain locations.
The Government of Belize has invested heavily in education as a key priority area. Unfortunately, there are still challenges in the education system related to access, quality and equity, according to the IDB. In Belize, children may attend preschool and then primary school at age 6 and secondary school at age 12. There are 8 grades in primary school and 6 grades in secondary school. The school year typically runs from September to June the following year.
About 40.8 percent of the surveyed residents reported that they were employed, 20.3 percent self-employed, 23.3 percent unemployed but not looking for a job, and 14.8 percent unemployed and looking for a job. The predominance of unemployment, particularly in one area of Belize City, suggests a high level of urban inequality, or concentrated poverty, and a compromised ability to meet basic needs. It indicates that efforts to attract new employers, provide skills training, and provide social services such as food banks, shelters, and lowcost housing, should be important parts of plans and programs of the City. 110
According to the education sector strategy, achieving the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education has made marginal progress: in 2015 the rate was 96.3 percent compared to 95 percent in 2001. As students reach secondary education, the enrolment levels struggle but are showing progress: in 2015 the rate was 60 percent compared to 44 percent in 2004. Participation in preschool, secondary and higher education remains low compared to regional averages. For Belize City, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by UNICEF (Statistical Institute of Belize and UNICEF Belize, 2017) indicates that the attendance rate for primary school is
97.9 percent and 82.4 percent for secondary school, excluding South side. The rate for South side is 98.8 percent for primary school and 83.5 percent for secondary school. In contrast to these figures, according to the Public Opinion Survey, families in Belize City are satisfied with the education of their children in public education institutions and have a positive perception of the quality of educational infrastructure and the commitment of the teachers. It should be noted, however, that there are a significant number of 6 to 18-yearolds currently not enrolled in school in the South Expansion, at about 20 percent. This is a much larger proportion than other areas of Belize City. College level education attainment beyond junior college and from the three universities in Belize (University of Belize, Galen University, University of West Indies) is limited in offering a wide range of disciplines. Attaining a degree in medical, architectural or other disciplines must be sought internationally. In most cases, however, beyond high school or an associate degree, youth in the city turn to jobs in tourism, office, banking or construction.
Response to question “Are you currently employed or looking for a job?”
Self-employed Unemployed, not looking for a job Unemployed and looking for a job Don’t know / No response 111
The goal of the education sector strategy is to improve access, quality and governance of education in Belize. Obviously, the challenges remain, and the Ministry acknowledges this. There are several multilateral agencies working in this area and they will continue to do so because it is agreed that education is the key to the development of Belize. Citizen Security Providing widespread security for citizens, and an environment relatively free from both violent and property crime is vital for cities and countries striving to support a high quality of life for residents. National, district and local governments are the main actors responsible for combatting illegal activities, as well as developing well-organized and competent judicial and law enforcement institutions. However, according to the Public Opinion Survey, more than half the population has little confidence in the police department. Crime varies across the City, with the South side of Belize City having a dense concentration of crime. Gangs present the main problem, due to their violent actions and capacity to attract youth participants. Members are young men, aged 15 to 29. Gangs remain a primarily urban phenomenon and are symptomatic of a high unemployment rate and lack of well-paying job opportunities.
Nearly 58 percent of respondents perceived their neighbourhoods as unsafe in South Expansion and 55.4 percent in South Centre. In contrast, only 12.8 percent of residents in North Expansion consider their neighbourhood unsafe. Police have responded to the violence by adopting more aggressive approaches in deploying military forces to aid authorities in performing public security functions. In general, such policies have been put in place as a reaction to rising violence, rather than formulated as part of proactive, visionary strategies to strengthen citizen security. Interviews with Belizeans suggest that efforts to control drug-related activities are hindered by corruption, gaps in intelligence gathering and analysis, and an ineffective judicial sector. The repressive approach has in many cases exacerbated the problem, precipitating a retaliatory spiral of violence and further radicalizing gangs. It also encourages youth to exploit the different proposals offered by the government, using social networks to elude the policeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s repressive action. Increasing citizen security requires a coordinated effort to address economic, social, and physical causes. It also requires coordination among the many levels of government. For Belize City, attention to local economic development, social and educational services directed toward youth, and effective and efficient law enforcement are needed.
The Belize City Action Plan outlines the beginning of a path to urban sustainability and a resilient Belize City.
The Belize City Action Plan outlines the beginning of a path to urban sustainability and a resilient Belize City. Three baseline studies create the foundation for the plan: the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s carbon footprint, vulnerability to natural hazards, and its urban growth. Complementary studies on mobility, solid waste management, land use, citizen security, as well as the results of a public opinion survey contribute to
the creation of strategies and actions. Community engagement and stakeholder input was a constant throughout the entire data collection process, adding depth to the baselines studies and ensuring that multiple viewpoints were sought and included. Interpretation of these studies, surveys and engagement efforts led to the identification of the following priority areas around which the action items are designed:
Vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change
Sanitation in relation to drainage network and solid waste management
Employment, Education and Citizen Security
Specified actions are designed to improve the quality of life through city-wide projects, protecting the environmental elements and increasing the capacity of local government. Actions targeting the highlighted priority areas ensure that future goals and projects reflect the social and political values within the City and region. Belize City leads the nation in urban development. Addressing these issues through thoughtful action serves not only the city residents, but also as an example for the rest of the country. Through the lens of responsible land use decision-making and sound best practices of urban and regional planning, Belize City can commit to a sustainable future. 117
Branding Belize City creates appreciation and instils pride in the citizens while also providing a platform for economic development opportunities. Belize City’s branding tagline is “Belize City: Savour the Flavour, Feel the Energy” (Associates, Arnett Muldrow &, 2017). The brand captures Belize City’s character and preserves it while helping the community realize its vision of the future. The Belize City Council will implement the logos, typeface and colours into a wayfinding system. Gateways signs, building markers, street banners, parking signage, and information kiosks along with merchandise and clothing items will help create a consistent and memorable image of Belize City. A city branding initiative can bolster the local economy by highlighting current city businesses and entrepreneurs while also drawing more job seekers, business owners, residents and tourists. Coupled with the branding initiative, improved and strategic 118
wayfinding will make it a more pleasant and easier experience for pedestrians to navigate the downtown area, ultimately making it a more attractive location to visit, open a business and live. This supports efforts to improve the quality of life in the urban core of Belize City and the goal of increasing economic activity and employment opportunities in the downtown area. Applying branding guidelines to wayfinding not only helps visitors to navigate the city, but also educates visitors about the city. Using the colours, typefaces and images from the branding guidelines to develop a consistent wayfinding system will highlight the existing assets of the city, such as the House of Culture, the Yarborough neighbourhood and St. John’s Cathedral. Incorporating branding into signage with large or strategically located businesses creates landmarks and valuable gateways that make the city more accessible.
Wayfinding is implemented through the following actions: Assess the city for suitable locations for signage, while integrating with existing downtown plans (House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project). Analyse pedestrian and vehicular circulation routes to establish protocols for the placement of wayfinding signage.
Survey existing conditions and sign messaging protocols to develop a sign code to guide design, installation and location of signs for new and existing structures. Survey visitors, residents and stakeholders, and conduct focus groups to better understand how placement and design of signage is working and adjust accordingly (Sign Research Foundation and International Sign Association, 2013). 119
undue pressure on existing infrastructure and facilities, including sanitation and stormwater management.
The growth of the urban footprint has slowly been pushing the city limits further outward. Considering existing development and accommodating for future development suggests a need for managed growth. Belize City has been, for the most part, unplanned with new development occurring beyond current land uses and activity, causing sprawl and inefficient use of land. Zoning regulations and land use restrictions are important tools that allow the City to control and direct the development of property within their borders, and also offer a link to 120
reducing GHG emissions caused by land use change. Zoning guides appropriate land uses, such as residential, commercial and industrial, and also regulates building heights and massing to ensure that land uses are compatible with one another and maintain views as well as access to light and air. Importantly, zoning also sets standards for the level of infrastructure needed before development can occur, which protects the city from new development that may place
While zoning has sometimes been criticized for resulting in sterile and unimaginative land use patterns, when done well, zoning can achieve vibrant, liveable districts with uses that complement one another. Zoning can also prohibit or limit development in areas that are environmentally sensitive or are physically vulnerable to coastal storms, including wind, surge and wave action. Any building that is permitted in hazardous areas such as flood plains or surge zones should be held to higher construction standards (for more info, see https://planningforhazards.com/use-specific-standards).
Actions: Create inventory of existing structures and land uses throughout the city and adjacent communities. Map these uses to generate an existing land use map. Categorize land uses according to a hierarchy of use or classification system. The American Planning Association (APA) recommends the Land-Based Classification System (LBCS), which classifies land into dimensions based on activities, functions, building types, site development character and ownership constraints. The LBCS specifies colours that represent different land uses.
soil permeability, slope, environmental sensitivity). Identify land uses that may be historically or culturally significant and require additional restrictions or protection. Set standards for different land uses with regard to required infrastructure and limits on activities. Establish regulations regarding parking, landscaping, infrastructure improvements, setbacks, heights, massing, lighting, environmental impacts, etc. Adopt zoning regulations.
Conduct a land suitability analysis to assess where and what kinds of development should be permitted or prohibited (e.g., floodplains,
Update existing building codes to meet best practices for different types of land use zones.
Land use and zoning regulations can restrict what landowners can do with their land, and thus may be opposed by some landowners. However, such regulations also help maintain predictability and safety of land uses, and so can protect from not only inappropriate or unwise land uses, but also can protect and even enhance land values. A public education campaign about the good that zoning can do is suggested to complement the initiative. 121
A successful zoning ordinance will require continuous monitoring and enforcement, so the capacity of Belize City to regulate the land use will be another challenge. Code enforcement will be a necessary capacity to develop. Yet the benefits from zoning for public health, well-being and safety make the effort to undertake it well worth it. Implementation of zoning regulations may require the city to change or create legislation to permit zoning (e.g., in the United States, enabling legislation is required in each state to permit zoning regulations). Updates to existing laws may be needed as well. Actions: Review and reconcile national land use laws and existing plans within the city that guide land use and development, e.g., House of Culture Plan and Community Planning Assistance Team: Yarborough Revitalization Initiative (see highlight page); Consider additional codes and ordinances, such as:
Community led initiatives can be an important component to any planning initiative and can be especially useful when building support for larger development actions. These initiatives are traditionally built around five core practice principles: Shared local visions drive action and change Using existing strengths and assets Many people, groups and sectors working together Building diverse and collaborative local leadership Working adaptively, learning informs planning and action (Inspiring Communities, 2018) 124
For Belize City, community led initiatives will require communication and collaboration at the community level, as well as cooperation across government agencies. These initiatives, which are often short to medium term projects, are easily adaptable, low cost, promote the visions and values established by the community and rely on local voices and assets for implementation. Below are examples of community-led initiatives identified by the APAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Community Planning Assistance Team: Yarborough Revitalization Initiative that can also be applied to other communities throughout Belize City.
Rehabilitation Programs Neighbourhood rehabilitation may be initiated and facilitated through community groups and stakeholders such as neighbourhood churches, schools and existing non-profits. These programs help residents decide on what is best for them by enabling participation and contributing to improving either social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of their neighbourhood. These programs rely on volunteers, in-kind and financial donations, fundraising and collaboration to be successful. Examples of the types of community led initiatives the Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s neighbourhoods may consider are: Weekly trash collection: A low cost solution to maintaining street and drainage cleanliness for the neighbourhood. Costs include trash bags and gloves. Lawn maintenance: Residents of neighbourhoods may form a working group to volunteer their time and equipment to clearing a neighbourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lawn with the aim of improving neighbourhood beauty while reducing breeding sites for mosquitoes. Tool lending system: An inventory of tools needed for projects and the residents that have tools may be established for sharing at the weekly and monthly projects mentioned above.
Iterative Projects/ Tactical Urbanism Tactical urbanism refers to a city, organizational and/or citizen-led approach to neighbourhood building using short term, low cost and scalable interventions to catalyse long-term change (Tactical Urbanism Guide, 2018). Below are examples of the types of community led initiatives that could be considered by Belize City residents: Construct a temporary public plaza at Albert Street and Albert Street West using green materials, public art and trees. Create a small plaza on Albert Street West around the Isiah Emmanuel Morter Statue. Albert Street Art Festival: Construct a parklet with movable furniture, planter boxes and shading. Celebrate proposed changes with a party that brings the community together and gives them the opportunity to test out proposed changes and offer input. Organize a flamboyant tree planting.
Through this work of developing a larger vision and tying it to projects that can be done by community residents and business owners, there is an opportunity for greater alignment with the larger land-use planning efforts, economic development initiatives and branding program for the neighbourhood and city. It is also a strategy for developing leadership, stewardship and civic pride in neighbourhoods across Belize City. 125
Temporary Pop Up Plazas BELIZE
The Square on 21st
The Square on 21st, located in downtown Denver, Colorado, USA, is an example of how to use publicly owned streets and sidewalks in a new and creative way. The park was a collaboration between the City and County of Denver and the Downtown Denver Partnership and showcased how an underused public right-of-way can be activated and transformed to provide a park-like public space in a neighbourhood that lacks these types of spaces.Â It was operational for two months and included a performance stage, lawn, seating and shade, street art and more. These types of initiatives are wonderful opportunities to highlight and celebrate local amenities and businesses in the neighbourhoods where they take place (City and County of Denver, 2018). The cost for this project was roughly $155,000 with in-kind donations. Asking community members to bring their own tools, supplies or materials can cut costs. Main budget line items included the following:
Main budget line items
Estimated Cost (US$)*
General Conditions (traffic, signage/wayfinding, security staffing, etc.)
Power (hook-ups, electrical distribution)
Programming (planning, events, management)
Entryways (gateway artwork, installation)
Gathering areas (turf, labour)
Dog Park (fencing and landscaping)
Mural (installations, materials, design, coordination, etc.)
* Note that these are estimated costs based on US prices and prices may vary in Belize.
Flamboyant and Mayf lower Tree Planting Tree plantings are fun and often cost-effective ways to build community pride while also beautifying neighbourhood streetscapes and open spaces. For Belize City, City leaders should work with communities to organize primary and high school students to partake in the program. To make an impact, a reasonable goal would be to plant 300 trees over the course of the program. The Belize City Council could work with each community to identify the most appropriate locations, as well as an implementation plan. For example, when working with school children, a tree planting in the beginning of the school year could be leveraged into an on-going education and stewardship opportunity, with the students learning about the benefits of caring for and protecting the natural environment. The tools needed for the planting could be borrowed from City Council, parks and recreations groups or even purchased. While an estimated budget is relatively low cost, it is important to note that the budget is reflective of the actual planting and does not include any transport or storage costs that may be necessary throughout the duration of the project.
Tree Planting ESTIMATED Materials Cost (US$)*
Based on cost of 300 Flamboyant Trees
Several mature trees for immediate impact
* Note that these are estimated costs based on US prices and prices may vary in Belize.
APA’s Community Planning Assistance Teams: Yarborough Revitalization Initiative The American Planning Association’s (APA) Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT) program organizes volunteer planning teams to work with communities struggling to address specific planning challenges. Projects focus primarily on localities with a demonstrated need for assistance and where planning resources and expertise may not otherwise be available. By pairing a multidisciplinary team of experts with community members, key stakeholders and relevant decision makers, the CPAT program fosters a collaborative effort to educate, engage and empower community members throughout the entire process. Over the course of two site visits, reviews of relevant materials, and multiple stakeholder meetings, CPAT volunteers prepare recommendations that directly address the needs initially expressed by the community. The BCC, through the funding support of the IDB ESC program, submitted a proposal to the CPAT program focusing on waterfront areas critical to the city’s overall land-use, sustainability and economic development. The historic Yarborough waterfront area located on the city’s south side was selected as the study area for the community planning initiative. Locally referred to as “Yabra,” with its historical and cultural assets, this community is one of the most valued areas in Belize City. In February 2016, an initial site visit was conducted by APA staff and the CPAT team-lead for the purpose of touring the Yarborough neighbourhood and discussing relevant issues and ideas with area stakeholders. Following the visit, an interdisciplinary team of volunteer planners, designers and engineers from across the United States was created. The full team travelled to Belize City
in June 2016 for a week-long engagement process which included several workshops, meetings and two large public meetings where residents were able to share their ideas and priorities and describe issues that affected their neighbourhood. After an intensive and productive week, the team presented a report that outlined conceptual designs and recommendations for improvements in Yarborough. The report focused on four planning priorities that the team developed through their stakeholder and public consultations. The team shared their findings and best practices and examples from other cities that could be used or adapted for the Yarborough area. The four planning priorities identified were (1) linking assets and a reorientation of the community to the water; (2) supporting community-led initiatives and activities; (3) implementing green infrastructure and resilience strategies; and (4) ongoing project development and management using metrics and “strategic doing.” With these planning priorities in mind and based on site analysis and input from the community, the team developed site-specific urban planning and design recommendations, as well as recommendations for how to accomplish the multiple projects and initiatives. Implementation strategies range from the near term to the long term and from low-cost projects to those that require significant capital investments. The report also outlines relatively simple and low-cost projects that can jumpstart positive changes in the Yarborough community as a part of this initiative. To learn more about the Yarborough CPAT and the final report, visit https://www.planning.org/communityassistance/teams/yarborough/. 129
For successful planning efforts and plan implementation, capacity building within the Belize City Council will be needed. Capacity means investing in human capital, to have professional, trained staff with time and expertise dedicated to professional activities. Currently, the City has few professional staff who have the training and experience to carry out the identified actions. City planners, professional engineers, public administrators and other professional staff are needed not only to undertake plan-making, but also to implement plan actions and enforce regulations. Decision-support systems such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that compile, aggregate, relate and visualize available data are also needed to assess progress towards goals and provide accurate and timely information to stakeholders and policymakers. Located about 3.5 miles from downtown and City Council offices, the Belize City Planning Department lacks staff, technical and financial resources, making it difficult to hold inclusive and representative public meetings or share important civic resources. Currently, staff focus mostly on processing building code permits and issuing fines to building code violators rather than addressing long-term planning issues impacting Belize
Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future. This strain is not limited to city planning alone, as other local government agencies in Belize City are also working with deeply depleted resources. The support of other agencies and the private sector can provide assistance, but attention to building up the capacity of the city government itself will ensure long-term success. Actions: Conduct an assessment of the Belize City Council Act: The existing governmental structure means that the majority of power is concentrated at the national level, having power in important issues such as roads. Nowadays, there is a lack of coordination and cooperation among governmental bodies, especially between the National Government and BCC, that hampers the implementation of integrated policies regarding urban growth. A new Belize City Act that could provide more capacities in the development and growth of the city is needed. This Act would allow for stronger control of land use, zoning and building.
Conduct institutional assessment of Belize City Council This would include an assessment to inform decision-making and planning in areas such as training needs, equipment needs and human resource needs. The assessment would focus on building their capacity in the areas of organizational, financial oversight and management. It would also assess whether the organization maintains an appropriate structure with the relevant controls in place to ensure, as far as possible, adequate safeguards of its organizational capacities. Conduct training on those areas identified in the assessment Some possible suggestions would include: Public-private partnerships, GIS systems, monitoring and evaluation, risk management, project management, urban planning.
action 1 Update and Manage Stormwater Infrastructure
action 0 Build Capacity (The medium term action of building capacity within city government is a pre-requisite for Project 2)
action 2 Renovate Seawall to Improve Access
action 1 Create and Execute a Visioning and Direction Setting Framework
action 3 Preserve Haulover Creek
action 2 Develop a Land Policy Plan
action 4 Conserve and Protect the Mangrove
action 3 Create a Community-wide Urban Land Use Design
action 5 Develop a Plan to Reduce Hazard Risk
action 4 Generate Small Area Plans
action 6 Implement Plan
action 5 Create a Development Management Plan
As a coastal city with a river, a creek and seasonal heavy rains, water both supports life and livelihood while simultaneously threatening and compromising it. Learning to both maximize the positive relationship and protect from the negative is critical to the future success of Belize City. A resilient Belize City adapts to changes without losing the essential qualities that define it. In many regards, Belize City is already quite resilient. Its residents have had an ongoing and long history of dealing with natural hazards. Moreover, the sense of community throughout the city provides cohesion and residents have proven to be resourceful through prior times of recovery. Yet, as the global climate continues to change, Belize City must look forward and plan accordingly for its future. Relying on a firm fact basis and inviting engagement from all residents is also essential to creating a vision for the future of the city. At the community level, the resilience framework within Belize City and for the country will be both innovative and adaptable. 134
action 1 DEVELOP A CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN FOR STORMWATER INFRASTRUCTURE Capital Improvement Plans help guide citiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; investments in expanding, updating and maintaining infrastructure, including roads, stormwater management, solid waste, sewer, cellular and other networks that support development. Capital improvement planning should be done in conjunction with land use planning to maximize efficiency and guide growth. Capital improvement plans allow cities to influence the quality and location of new development by facilitating or inhibiting development in appropriate areas. While a Capital Improvement Plan is needed for all infrastructure, the first order of business should be an upgrading of stormwater infrastructure. The plan should include the upgrading of the open ditch
street drainage, needed throughout the City, and specifically, in the lowest lying parts such as the Yarborough neighbourhood, Port Loyola and Lake Independence neighbourhoods. Other areas of priority for update are within existing drainage systems that are lacking maintenance and thus may be working at less than full efficiency, or may even be exacerbating flooding (e.g., clogged or cracked drains or pipes). Green Infrastructure or Low-Impact Development applications should be strongly considered as cost-effective solutions that also add an element of design to the city. Open lots, ditches and existing drainage can apply green infrastructure into its framework.
What is Low Impact Development? Where and how could Belize City apply it? Low Impact Development (LID) is an innovative stormwater management approach with a basic principle that is modelled after nature: manage rainfall at the source using uniformly distributed decentralized micro-scale controls. The goal of LID is to mimic a siteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s predevelopment hydrology by using design techniques that infiltrate, filter, store, evaporate and detain runoff close to its source. Techniques are based on the premise that stormwater management should not be viewed as stormwater disposal. Instead of conveying and managing / treating stormwater in large, costly end-of-pipe facilities located at the bottom of drainage areas, LID addresses stormwater through small, cost-effective landscape features located at the lot level (Low Impact Development Center, Inc., 2018).
LONG-term action 2 RENOVATE THE SEA WALL TO IMPROVE COASTAL ACCESS While the Belize City sea wall serves as a physical barrier to the sea, it also serves as a critical social gathering place and connection to the water. The parks and walkways along the sea wall contribute to this cherished appreciation of the city. The sea wall is currently in poor condition, which compromises both functions.
Reorientation to the seawall should be linked with the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) through ongoing educa-
action 3 PRESERVE HAULOVER CREEK Haulover Creek is a definitive geographic and water element of Belize City. At its mouth, there is a high demand for tourism and commercial use. Further up the creek, at its break off from the Belize River, the slow removal of mangrove for private residential and commercial development threatens the integrity of this environmental resource and the services it provides. Unregulated development has resulted in Haulover Creek being encroached upon and neglected. To stop further deterioration of the mangroves, the remaining mangroves must be preserved. Strong regulatory measures that prevent or severely limit further development and direct it toward more appropriate sites will protect the creek and allow environmentally sensitive uses that are nature-based, low-impact and educational. Land acquisition (purchase) is effective, but expensive, as it removes the area to be conserved from the available inventory of developable land through public purchase of the land. Transfer of development rights is a method of allowing landowners to develop on different plots of
land in exchange for not developing on designated, environmentally sensitive land. Strict zoning is a moderately inexpensive method but cannot completely prohibit development. An alternative is to have a benefactor or non-profit organization purchase the land with the agreement that it be kept undeveloped in perpetuity. Transfer of development rights is a tool that is used to allow landowners to profit off their land by exchanging parcels in areas to be protected (transfer area) with parcels in other parts of the region that can safely be developed (receiving area). Wetland protection - the land along the banks of the Haulover Creek. Regulatory tools to manage the preservation of the Haulover Creek may include the creation of residential subdivision ordinances that target the existing and future development of residential areas along the river.
tion and voluntary maintenance of the sea wall and coastline. Investing in shading for adjacent parks and walkways along the sea wall is also an action that will further beautify the coast and improve functionality for residents. Coastal access in Belize City is available but there is a need for better planning of adjacent land use and activity. Existing property adjacent to much of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coastline is commercial. A shift away from the traditional approach of dominating a coastline with commercial/ hospitality uses to public access through parks and walkways should be applied. The existing parks (BTL Park, Memorial Park, Baron Bliss Park), are extremely valuable to city residents and similar amenities within neighbourhoods like Yarborough are needed.
action 4 CONSERVE AND RESTORE THE MANGROVE Mangroves are not only critical to Haulover Creek but are important to the entire coastline. Their importance spans beyond coastal limits as mangroves are a critical link in the overall ecosystem of the coral reef acting as nurseries for juvenile fish and home to the protected manatees. For Belize City, mangroves act as both sediment retainers and most importantly as natural barriers to wind and wave action. Removal of mangroves for development in Belize may be inevitable but actions to minimize and slow the rate of removal must be taken. As mentioned before, the coordination of the regulatory framework at both the local and national level is needed to build the capacity needed for this action. A conservation plan should prioritize the following: Maintain wide mangrove belts. Wider mangrove belts are better able to maintain sediment flows, reducing sediment losses and erosion. Even partial conversion of the mangrove belt can lead to reductions in sediment flows, reductions of deposition and increasing erosion. Ensure healthy mangrove growth. In most places healthy, natural mangroves are likely to be relatively stable habitats
with little erosion: complex root systems help slow water flows, allowing sediment to settle and causing sediment to accrete rather than erode; while productive root growth and leaf litter supply are critical to build and bind soils. Maintain or restore sediment supply and avoid sediment starvation caused by certain coastal and inland engineering works that block the flow of sediments from rivers or along the coast.
action 5 DEVELOP A PLAN TO REDUCE HAZARD RISK The reduction of risk to natural hazards of floods, storm surge, wind and hurricanes will further enable Belize City to be prepared for the next event. The increasing frequency and intensity of coastal storms makes attention to reducing risk critical to protect from loss of life and property. A Resilience Plan will include a strong fact base on which to base decisions, including: An inventory of vulnerable buildings and housing stock at risk; Identification, understanding and use of current and future risk scenarios;
Mapping of floodplains, coastal surge and wind zones; Social vulnerability mapping to identify vulnerable populations; Identification of natural buffers and other environmental services that are vital to the protection of natural ecosystem; and Identification and monitoring of essential natural ecosystems within and outside the city. The fact base provides a platform upon which priorities and goals can be established with public input. The fact base will reveal the biggest threats to Belize City and will point to appropriate solutions, which should coordinate with both capital investments in infrastructure (e.g., canal system, seawall, levees, etc.) as well as non-structural mitigation actions such as comprehensive land use planning and public education campaigns. It should also include an organizational structure with strong leadership and clarity of coordination and responsibilities, as well as a plan to strengthen financial capacity for resilience by understanding and assessing the significant economic impacts of disaster.
action 6 IMPLEMENT PLAN Plan implementation involves translating plan goals into actions and executing regulations, policies, programs, educational initiatives or capital investments (in the case of structural mitigation approaches). It is the final step, usually undertaken over many years, of executing the plan. Strong plan implementation relies on commitment from elected officials, planning staff, and perhaps most importantly, residents and stakeholders. A strong public education campaign that highlights plan benefits, milestones, and outcomes helps stakeholders to maintain engagement and enthusiasm about seeing the plan come to fruition. 137
Ecosystem Connectivity BELIZE
and impacts on ecosystem services from human activities
ABSORB INORGANIC NUTRIENTS
SLOW FRESHWATER DISCHARGE STORM BUFFERING EXPORT OF INVERTEBRATE AND FISH LARVAE
Source: Nellemann, C., E. Corcoran (eds). 2010. Dead Planet, Living Planet - Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration for Sustainable Development. A Rapid Response Assessment. United Nations Environment Programme, GRID-Arendal. www.grida.no
FISH AND INVERTEBRATE HABITAT (ADULT MIGRATION)
SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHANGES FOR COASTAL POPULATIONS
Decreased fisheries, decreased revenues from tourism, and decreased storm buffering
Changes in nutrients, sediments and freshwater outputs
LOSS OF CORRAL REEF HABITAT
LOSS OF MANGROVE AND SEAGRASS HABITAT
Increased sedimentation and nutrient imput
DECREASED STORM BUFFERING AND INCREASED COASTAL EROSION
DECREASED STORM BUFFERING
W A T E R S
coral reef BINDING SEDIMENTS
ABSORB INORGANIC NUTRIENTS
EXPORT OF FISH AND INVERTEBRATE LARVAE AND ADULTS
EXPORT OF ORGANIC MATERIAL AND NUTRIENTS FOR NEARSHORE AND OFFSHORE FOODWEBS EXPORT OF INVERTEBRATE AND FISH LARVAE FISH AND INVERTEBRATE HABITAT (ADULT MIGRATION)
EXPORT OF ORGANIC MATERIAL AND NUTRIENTS FOR NEARSHORE AND OFFSHORE FOODWEBS FISH AND INVERTEBRATE HABITAT 139
Today, a mix of the old and new patterns of development has blended together to create Belize Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s character and identity. Planning Belize City for its future presents a handful of opportunities for residents and the environment that can shift the city towards a trajectory of sustainable growth and development. Understanding the current state of the city in terms of land, population and economy lays the groundwork to guide stakeholders for the next twenty to fifty years. Furthermore, attention to the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vulnerability to natural hazards allows planning efforts to address resilience and manage future development while protecting environmental resources. A comprehensive plan-making project has numerous benefits for Belize City. Existing plans, which focus on tourism, the coastline and urban growth can be wrapped into a comprehensive plan that ensures consistency between plans and unifies a vision for Belize City. The actions presented are stepping stones to the development of a complete comprehensive plan, and they rest on the foundation of the medium-term action described previously of building capacity within city government, which is a prerequisite for the success of the following actions.
action 1 CREATE AND EXECUTE A VISIONING AND DIRECTION-SETTING FRAMEWORK Visioning allows a community to identify what its future looks like. It provides a framework for (1) prompting issues and opportunities, (2) setting goals and objectives and (3) formulating land use development and environmental policies. Placing the future vision on a sound fact basis allows the identification of key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the city. A description of major trends, the opportunities and constraints help identify productive paths forward. A vision statement generates a common goal, hope, inspiration, and offers a possibility of creative thinking and fundamental change. It also gives the residents a sense of control, furthering transparency. At its most basic, the vision statement provides a picture of what the city should look like and the life it should provide for all residents at the end of the planning period. Goals provide detail to the vision, listing the issues that are important to the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s stakeholders and delineating specifically how standards need to change to achieve the vision. Objectives are the measures of
the goals, and allow residents, stakeholders and policymakers to understand how the goals can be met. Importantly, objectives must be measurable to evaluate progress toward the goal. Examples of objectives Belize City may strive to accomplish are: reduce GHG emission in the AFOLU sector by 10 percent by the year 2040, assess natural hazard risk and vulnerability within the next 5 years, increase the number of affordable dwelling units in downtown Belize City by 10 percent, increase the percentage of homes that may be affordable to low-income households, increase the percentage of sidewalk coverage in and around the city by 20 percent and update building codes and standards within five years.
Actions Assessing progress towards goals requires that the city monitor critical indicators regularly and provide updates to city stakeholders and policymakers so that they are held accountable for plan implementation and progress. Some examples include: annual change in pollutant levels, annual change in the number of dwelling units in downtown, annual change in coastal erosion, annual change in the amount of mangrove removal, etc. Including benchmarks as short-term checks on long term goals. The opportunity to check and balance progress shall be manageable given the level of coordination and commitment to achieving goals and objectives. Policies specify the course of action needed to reach a goal. Policies typically include regulatory actions such as zoning, development codes, or building codes or programs such as educational campaigns, events or initiatives that promote or enable new activities or targeting of resources to accomplish objectives. In the case of Belize City, a continued cooperation with the IDB and other entities can be beneficial to establishing guiding principles and studies that support or facilitate the efforts laid out in the vision.
action 2 DEVELOP A LAND POLICY PLAN (METROPOLITAN SCALE) A land policy plan or land classification plan is especially appropriate for Belize City and its larger metropolitan area. Land policy plans identify different types of land and their appropriate uses or uses that should be prohibited. For a city with such extensive environmentally sensitive areas and increasing development, a land policy plan is an important step towards protecting and restoring the mangrove, limiting coastal erosion and mitigating impacts from coastal storms. Specifying where urban development should occur, where land should be devoted to conservation, as well as designing land uses and activities for organized spatial living, working and recreational use will also greatly benefit Belize City. A successful land policy plan will consider the balance and synthesis of the natural systems in and around Belize City, the values appreciated by the residents, and the overall market system of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s functions and future. It will specify the amount of land available for development, conservation, commercial, residential and recreational use. A spatial policy plan can help both stakeholders and policymakers to visualize areas where development may or may not occur, as well as how these decisions have been arrived at. The process to achieve this delineation is both iterative and interactive. Citizen input and engagement should continue to be a part of its development.
As land districts are defined based on a laid out spatial policy of Belize City, there are multiple steps applied to each category of land use: Establish location principles, map relative suitability, determine space requirements (the amount of land needed), determine the holding capacity of potential locations (the number of housing units), quantify employees in the area, quantify number of acres needed and design the spatial pattern of land use. Include guiding principles that assure development patterns of Belize City mitigate the risks of environmental hazards such as flooding and coastal storm surge. Determine space requirements for Belize City, considering the demand for land needed in the future. Assign the population and employment requirements to the assigned spatial sectors as well as assigning a safety threshold for flexibility. For example: Number of employees needed and acres/floor area ratio for manufacturing in the city. Also take into consideration the supply side or holding capacity of Belize City, such as the amount of land needed to hold enough housing units for the projected population of the city at an average density. 141
action 3 CREATE A COMMUNITY-WIDE URBAN LAND USE DESIGN (CITY SCALE) The community-wide urban land use design is a more explicit approach to visualizing the future urban form and more detailed in specifying location and calculating space requirements. Establishing types of land uses based on location principles (Project 2: Action 2) is useful to delineate activity type, for example, the establishment of an industrial district or corridor, a business centre or corridor or residential areas. The range of densities for each type of land use shall be specified, such as low, medium and high density residential. Included in the land use definitions will be parks, greenways, conservation corridors and open space. Definitions and standards to accomplish an effective land use design plan require standardized 142
terminology and colours to communicate and translate the content to the community and to city officials as a universal language, as described earlier in the short-term actions. One area of focus for the urban land use design is transportation infrastructure, which connects the activity areas of Belize City. As highlighted, the issue of urban and regional transportation requires attention. Establishing future trends for transportation infrastructure that accommodate multiple modes of transportation and increase mobility and accessibility to commercial areas is a necessary part of land use design and planning. Increasing the residential density at specific locations to support transit (e.g. Bus
Rapid Transit) and other local transportation modes (bikes and walking) are tied to corridors and nodes within the land use design. Belize Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Coney Drive, as an example, is a commercial corridor slowly emerging into its own centre. The two main arterial highways (Northern and Western) have attracted commercial growth from the city core. Agreeing on areas for future planning and growth influences the transportation plan as well. A better projection and design to achieve connectivity is also embedded for better mobility and efficiency in transportation. As always, the inclusion of equity through accessibility to transportation should be incorporated.
action 4 GENERATE SMALL AREA PLANS Small area plans are applicable to Belize City given its many neighbourhoods with distinct characteristics. Scalable to various sizes and densities, the small area plan is adaptable. The purpose of the small area plan is to interpret and apply the community wide land use plan and design (Project 2: Actions 2 and 3) to designated areas of the city. Exploring unique small area issues of the city will also address both problems and opportunities as well as priorities not evident at the city-wide scale. Engaging citizens in the local planning of the small area plan and implementation has deep reaching impacts as it directly impacts their street, neighbourhoods and businesses. The CPAT Yarborough Revitalization Plan is an example of a small area plan. A small area plan for areas of Belize City will be more detailed in its proposed future vision and implementation. Small area plans permit inclusive participatory processes and allow an emphasis on urban design. A good small area plan will pay attention to boundary setting and relation to the community wide plan as well. Since the small area plan for individual areas of the city will be detailed, so will its inventory and analysis of existing and emerging conditions, such as land uses by parcel in the area and existing building structures.
Urban design elements contribute to the physical and social character of a neighbourhood (e.g., specific historic neighbourhoods and gateways to Belize City such as Fore-shore/ Yarborough, Fort George area, Fort Street, Cork Street, all of Freetown and Barrack Road). Small scale transportation elements such as sidewalks, bike lanes and bus stops are also included with streetscapes. Low-impact development approaches such as bioswales, rain gardens and retention areas may also be addressed at this small scale. Cultural and historic preservation are also important at this scale. Colonial era architecture such as the House of Culture is critical to maintaining the history and culture of specific neighbourhoods and must be included into the design character. •
Branding and wayfinding (Short-term Action 1) should also be consistent with and present in small area plans.
Small area plans may not cover all areas of a city, and may take on different forms, such as a “neighbourhood plan,” “corridor plan” or “district plan.” They often take on a specific focus, such as preservation or redevelopment, depending on the needs and issues present in the small area. The use of small area plans within the planning capacity of Belize City may be more feasible and reachable from a coordination standpoint as the planning horizon on projects of this scale will be more attainable. However, starting at the small area level and working up from there risks inconsistence and incoherence at each larger scale. At least minimal overarching efforts should be made at the higher planning levels before small area plans are undertaken. 143
Proposed Land Use Plan (2040)
Legend commercial industrial high density residential low density residential medium density residential mixed use public/semi public residential transition business/industrial 145
action 5 CREATE A DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT PLAN A development management plan for Belize City should be a dynamic process in which the city anticipates and seeks to accommodate community development in ways that balance competing land use goals and coordinate local with regional interests. The role of a development management plan in Belize City will be to actively guide growth in accordance with the community vision and a comprehensive plan once created. Specifically, the role of the development management plan for Belize City is to prepare for the timing and location of public infrastructure investment, guide development to locations that limit impact on natural systems (mangrove, coast, wetlands), increase the efficient use of infrastructure and balance equity among competing goals of the city such as tourism and land conservation. Lastly, the plan shall
provide a legal basis that limits subjective plan implementation decisions. This point, within the context of Belize City, touches on the capacity of the government to not only implement a laid-out action but to enforce it and be accountable for future planning. These tools within the development management plan cover technical and administrative expertise, political accessibility, legality, cost and geographic coverage. Using planning tools to achieve optimum land use planning also achieves multiple goals covered in the direction setting of the city (Project 1: Action 1). Necessary tools for land conservation, economic development and equity shall be embedded into the development management plan. Attention to city financing, such as the taxing power and other revenue generation, must be taken into consideration.
Urban Land Use Planning One of the most influential planning books for both academics and practitioners is Urban Land Use Planning (Berke, Godschalk, Kaiser, & Rodriguez, 2006), now in its fifth edition. The book explores the societal context of land use planning and proposes a model for understanding and reconciling conflicting priorities that often arise among competing stakeholders. This classic planning text explains how to build planning support systems to assess future conditions, evaluate policy choices, create
visions and compare scenarios. It also presents a methodology for creating plans that will influence future land use change. Drawing on the strengths of the rational, consensus building and visionary urban design model of planning, Urban Land Use Planning is a useful tool that provides guidance for planners seeking to build community capacity to prepare, implement and adopt plans that progressively guide changes in ways that balance the multiple goals that make up sustainable settlement patterns.
How to read the actions Potential Source of Financing
Assess the city for suitable locations for signage, while Appropriate and consistent integrating into existing downtown plans (House of locations for signage Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project).
Analyse pedestrian and vehicular circulation routes to establish protocols for the design and placement of wayfinding signage.
Effective and coordinated wayfinding that is brand-compliant
Survey existing conditions and sign messaging protoLong-term consistency in signage cols to develop a sign code to guide design, installation, and wayfinding community-wide and location of signs for new and existing structures.
Potential Source of Financing
Implementation Matrix Actions
Create inventory of existing structures and land uses Improved decision-making and throughout the city and adjacent communities. Map to ordinance development generate an existing land use map. Categorize land uses according to a hierarchy of use or classification system. The American Planning Association recommends the Land-Based Classification System Improved information on which to (LBCS), which classifies land into dimensions based on base land use decisions activities, functions, building types, site development character, and ownership constraints. The LBCS specifies colors that represent different land uses. Conduct a land suitability analysis to assess where and what kinds of development should be permitted or prohibited (e.g., floodplains, soil permeability, slope, environmental sensitivity).
Improved land development decisions
Identify land uses which may be historically or culturally significant and require additional restrictions or protection.
Improved protection of historic or culturally-significant properties
Set standards for different land uses with regard to required infrastructure and limits on activities.
Improved consistency, compatibility, and quality of land use patterns and outcomes
Establish regulations regarding parking, landscaping, infrastructure improvements, setbacks, heights, massing, lighting, environmental impacts, etc.
Improved function, quality of life, aesthetics, health and safety of the built environment
Adopt zoning regulations
Improved consistency and enforcement of land use and built environment standards
Update existing building codes to meet best practices for different types of land use zones
Enhanced safety and welfare of structures
Review and reconcile national land use laws and existing plans within the city that guide land use and development (e.g., House of Culture plan, and APA CPAT Yarborough plan)
Improved consistency among multi-level and multi-jurisdictional planning and zoning efforts; improved ability to enforce zoning efforts
Consider additional codes and ordinances, such as design guidelines and a sign ordinance
Enhanced aesthetic quality of built environment and associated improvements in land values and rents
Examples include rehabilitation programs and iterative projects / tactical urbanism
Community commitment to taking action to improving quality of the built and natural environment in their neighborhood
Potential Source of Financing
Implementation Matrix Actions
Conduct an assessment of the Belize City Council Act
Improved understanding of functioning of BCC
Conduct institutional assessment of Belize City Council
Identification of areas for improvement within BCC
Conduct training on those areas identified in the assessment
Improved capacity of BCC staff to effectively carry out the BCC's mission and efficiently and properly design and carry out projects and plans for improved city management
Update and Manage Stormwater Infrastructure
Decreased urban flooding
Renovate Seawall to Improve Access
Improved access to, use of, and appreciation of sea
Preserve Haulover Creek
Decreased erosion, increase sedimentation, increased GHG absorption
Conserve and Protect the Mangrove
Decreased wave action, decreased coastal erosion, increased sedimentation, reduced flooding and damage from coastal storms
Develop a Plan to Reduce Hazard Risk
Reduced damage and losses from flooding, surge, and wave action
Community commitment to taking action to decrease hazard risk and improve quality of life
Create and Execute a Visioning and Direction Setting Framework Develop a Land Policy Plan
Create a Communitywide Urban Land use Design
Generate Small Area Plans
Create a Development Management Plan
Potential Source of Financing
A clear picture of Belize City in the future to guide decision-making, more efficient actions Enhanced understanding of future development needs and the land available to accommodate them Coordinated investment, consistent and compatible land uses, efficient decision-making Improved attention to the unique character of Belize City's neighborhoods and cultural areas; improved urban design; improved mobility, improved economic function Balanced land use goals and coordinated interests 151
This Action Plan and the comprehensive methodology and rigorous public engagement effort behind it, identifies meaningful and effective strategies that can be embraced and implemented by both government agencies and communities alike. The suggested action items, as well as community-led actions, if undertaken, will not only reinforce Belize Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economic, cultural and historical relevance, but transform the City into a resilient coastal city. The action items are anchored by the belief that Belize City must embrace its relationship with the water that surrounds it, while also prioritizing the creation of a comprehensive city-wide plan to protect it from threats posed by the changing climate. The future is indeed bright for Belize City, with the excitement about this plan reinforcing Belize Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commitment to a sustainable future. Both Belize City and its residents have expressed both interest and enthusiasm through support for innovative approaches to building capacity at all scales, whether a city street, neighbourhood, the Belize City Council or the nation. To succeed in its endeavours, Belize City must build on its momentum with a sense of urgency
by actively working to address the priority areas identified in this plan while working to implement the corresponding actions as laid out in this Action Plan. While this Action Plan provides a way forward for Belize City, implementation of the plan will require a multi-sector approach with collaboration and coordination from public sector agencies and private and public stakeholders at the national and local level. A robust public engagement effort is also necessary to ensure all components of the plan represent and are ultimately embraced by all residents of Belize City. If implemented, the strategies presented in this Action Plan will have a cascading effect and significantly advance Belize Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s regional influence for decades to come, while also creating a safer and more resilient city. This plan will facilitate reconnecting the people of Belize City with the land, with the water, and with what happens with their city, while also letting them and visitors rediscover its greatness. Current and future generations of Belizeans will benefit from a vibrant, sustainable and most importantly, resilient Belize City.
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Aknowledgments The project team would like to thank all of the individuals and organizations who supported and contributed to this ESCI research project and greatly enhanced the quality and design of its outcomes: Belize City Council; Government of Belize; Belize City residents and community groups; American Planning Association; IDOM; IH Cantabria; Grupo Innovaterra, S.A.; Arnett Muldrow & Associates, Ltd.; APA CPAT Team: Justin Moore, Antoine Bryant, Veronica Davis, Adam Perkins, Shannon Van Zandt, Ryan Scherzinger, and Jennifer Graeff; IDB Country Representative for Belize Cassandra Rogers; Gilberto Chona; Luis Schloeter; Gerard Alleng; Sara Valero; Gines Suarez; David Kostenwein; Avelina
Ruiz; Alejandro Gomez; Jacqueline Dragone; Ishmael Quiroz; Venetia Eck-Salazar; Astrid Salazar; Alexandre Veyrat-Pontet; and Xavier Grau. The authors also benefitted from the comments and guidance from the members of the ESC Belize City Technical Advisory Committee and its Working Groups, the team members in the IDB country office in Belize City, and HUD specialists at IDB headquarters in Washington. This project and this publication were made possible by the support of the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Multidonor Trust Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Board of Directors, or the countries they represent. Unless otherwise noted, all maps, charts, and graphics are sourced to the IDB / IDOM. For detailed information on the IDOM and other studies under the ESCI, please contact CSD-HUD@iadb.org.
LEAD AUTHORS: Shannon Van Zandt, Jennifer Graeff, Tristan Lanza CONTRIBUTORS: David Baringo, Sarah Benton, Mauro Brusa, Rut Diamint, Rae Furlonge, Elena Gomez, Raul Medina, Susana Molina, Tripp Muldrow, Marcelo Rosso, Irayda Ruiz EDITORS: Sarah Benton Jacqueline Dragone PROJECT MANAGER: Sandra Bartels PROJECT COORDINATOR: Sarah Benton PHOTOGRAPHY: Ramon Zamora IDB LEAD DESIGN EDITOR: Emilia Aragón
EDITOR: Andrés Barragán ART DIRECTOR María Paula Leiva Luna LAYOUT María Paula Leiva Luna Cristine Villamil Ramírez PUNTOAPARTE BOOKVERTISING www.puntoaparte.com.co