SAN IGNACIO / SANTA ELENA MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN Draft Chapters 1, 2 and 3  November 2013

Prepared by: San Ignacio / Santa Elena Local Planning Working Group (LPWG)

San Ignacio / Santa Elena Municipal Development Plan

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Members of San Ignacio / Santa Elena LPWG: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. Mayor John August, San Ignacio/Santa Elena Shary Medina, Councilor, SISE Town Council Earl Trapp, Councilor, SISE Town Council Karen Fernandez, Town Administrator, SISE Town Council Juan Polanco, Architect, SISE Town Council Dennis Morey, Valuation Department, SISE Town Council Melanie Danilczyk, Revenue Department, SISE Town Council Wilfredo Zetina, Traffic Department, SISE Town Council Escander Bedran, Business Owner – Running W, Civil Society Anthony Mai, DOE, Civil Society Mick Flemming, Owner – Chaa Creek, Civil Society Dorian Enriquez, Maps Coordinator, SISE LPWG Consultant

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1: ASSESSMENT OF EXISTING CONDITIONS ................................................................ 5 Overall .................................................................................................................................................... 6 District Scale .............................................................................................................................................. 7 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.5 Role of the municipality within the district .................................................................................. 7 Physical description ................................................................................................................... 8 Environmental, natural and archeological assets .......................................................................... 9 Inter-regional transportation links.............................................................................................. 11

Municipal Scale ....................................................................................................................................... 12 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 History and culture ................................................................................................................... 12 Current land area ...................................................................................................................... 12 Population ................................................................................................................................ 12 Economy and labor force .......................................................................................................... 13 Spatial development pattern, land, and land use ........................................................................ 15 Environmental, ecological and green areas ................................................................................ 20 Public spaces ........................................................................................................................... 21 Cultural, archaeological and historic assets ................................................................................ 21 Recreational facilities................................................................................................................ 21 Transportation and accessibility ................................................................................................ 22 Priority investments and future known projects.......................................................................... 24 Hazards, risks and disaster preparedness .................................................................................... 24 Infrastructure and utilities ........................................................................................................ 26 Municipal management, administration and financing .............................................................. 29

CHAPTER 2: VISION, STRATEGY AND DEVELOPMENT SCENARIOS................................... 30 2.1 2.2 A Vision for SISE ..................................................................................................................... 31 SISE Development Strategy ...................................................................................................... 31

2.2.1 Existing population projections ......................................................................................... 31 2.2.2 Population Growth Scenarios for SISE ...................................................................................... 32 2.2.3 Development Strategy Policies and Proposals ................................................................... 36 CHAPTER 3: LAND USE PROPOSALS ........................................................................................... 39 3.1 Introduction: Land Use Planning and Draft Municipal Development Plans ....................................... 40 3.2 3.3 Validation: Preferred Development Scenarios and Policies ......................................................... 40 Overall Development Concept .................................................................................................. 42

3.3.1 General Municipal Improvement Proposals ....................................................................... 42 3.4 Land Use Proposals indicated on a map ..................................................................................... 42

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3.4.1Town Expansion........................................................................................................................ 42 3.4.2 Infrastructural Improvement Areas.................................................................................... 48 3.4.3 Commercial Development Areas....................................................................................... 49 3.4.4 Downtown Improvement Areas................................................................................................. 49 3.4.5 Relocated Bus Terminal.................................................................................................... 50 3.4.6 New Santa Elena Administrative Site ............................................................................... 50 3.5 Land Use Proposals not indicated on a map ............................................................................... 50 3.5.1 Design Guidelines .................................................................................................................... 50 3.5.2 Building Improvement Incentives for Property Owners ..................................................... 50 3.6 General Infrastructure Improvement .......................................................................................... 51 3.6.1 Drainage................................................................................................................................... 51 3.6.2 LiDER...................................................................................................................................... 51

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CHAPTER 1: ASSESSMENT OF EXISTING CONDITIONS

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Overall San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns are located in the Western region of Belize in the Cayo District. Cayo District, the largest district in the country, is one of the inland districts bordered by Guatemala. The Cayo District has three municipalities with the towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena constituting the largest municipality with a population of about 18,000. Approximately 2/3 of the Cayo District is still natural, undeveloped land, while the remainder is largely cultivated for agriculture purposes. A wealth of resources exists and products that come from the Cayo District include meats, dairy, poultry, agricultural crops, petrol oil (in export quantities), cattle and animal feeds, grains and citrus. Electricity is also another product of the Cayo District driven by the Macal River. The Mopan and the Macal Rivers meet to form the Belize River. These rivers also provide approximately 28% of the country’s source of drinking water. The Cayo District also hosts the largest urban road network within the country which largely contributes to booming tourism activity. Considered as the hub of trading and inland tourism, San Ignacio and Santa Elena is a melting pot of cultural diversity where neighboring communities and villages meet to trade agricultural products and goods. The growth of San Ignacio/Santa Elena is reflected in the increase in population, which has doubled over the past 20 years. Factors influencing this growth are: immigration for quality of life; availability of land and natural resources; and increase in employment due to tourism, agriculture, and increase in industries e.g.: petroleum and foreign investments (especially from Chinese entrepreneurs).

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San Ignacio / Santa Elena Municipal Development Plan DISTRICT SCALE

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1.1 Role of the municipality within the district San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town is bordered on the west by San Jose Succotz Village and Benque Viejo Town. Other surrounding communities include Spanish Lookout, Duck Run, Santa Familia Village, Bullet Tree Village, Esperanza, San Antonio Village, Cristo Rey Village, Calla Creek Village and Santa Rosa Village. San Ignacio/Santa Elena hosts the largest farmer ’s market outlet and the surrounding village depends on the local market to supply their produce and trade. San Ignacio Town is also central to the banking, police, medical, social security and local government or administrative activities that residents within neighbouring communities need. Most secondary and tertiary level educational institutions are also located within town limits. San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town is also the central area providing major job opportunities and entertainment.

The council supports the various surrounding villages despite being outside of our boundaries. San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town council, in joint cooperation with the Benque Viejo Town council, has ventured into a new solid waste management project. The council works closely with the chairpersons of the various surrounding villages towards supporting infrastructure by providing mechanical equipment such as graders, rollers and other road maintenance equipment.

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1.2 Physical description San Ignacio is bordered on the north by the Mopan River. The Macal river runs directly between the two towns and is the feature that separates them, with Santa Elena located to the east of the Macal River, and San Ignacio on the western side. The Macal and Mopan Rivers converge to form the Belize River, which borders Santa Elena to the north. The Belize River is one of the major rivers of Belize. The valley areas which border these rivers produce minimum elevations as low as 13 meters. The general topographical trend is an increase in elevation with decreasing latitude. Maximum elevation within the existing boundaries of the municipality occurs at the Cahal Pech Archaeological Reserve, which is located in the south-central section of San Ignacio. Beyond the borders of the municipality toward the southeast, elevation increases to a maximum of 291 meters. Besides the majors rivers previously mentioned, there are also several adjacent minor rivers and streams that are affected by seasonality. There are no major water bodies such as lakes or freshwater lagoons. Existing ponds are very insignificant in size and are mainly used by livestock farmers. In every developing municipality we face weather-related disasters that have led us to have to rebuild. Our municipality has always experienced flooding, though today we are proud to have invested in making our town less prone to this phenomenon.

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Immediately surrounding the borders of the municipality are areas of land used for agriculture. Beyond that, lowland broadleaved forests can be found. This ecosystem can also be found immediately adjacent to the southern portions of the current boundaries of San Ignacio.

1.3 Environmental, natural and archeological assets San Ignacio Town is the hub of the tourism industry in the Cayo District. It acts as a spring board to major archaeological sites, natural reserves, parks and national monuments. Most resorts and tour companies in San Ignacio Town and surrounding communities offer day activities to various sites. Some of these sites are detailed below:  The Xunantunich Archaeological Site is perched along-side the scenic Mopan River in the western village of San Jose Succotz. It has become one of the most visited archaeological sites in the Cayo District. Cahal Pech Archaeological Site sits atop the Cahal Pech hill overlooking San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns. Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve offers scenic trips to lush natural waterfalls, swimming holes and jungle hikes. It is also home to many natural cave structures such as the Rio Frio Cave system and the tallest water fall in Belize, the 1000Ft Falls.

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Actun Tunich Muknal cave system is a unique cave system that is set in the Tapir Reserve in Teakettle Village. Unlike other cave systems, the ATM is also a popular archaeological site that doubles as a unique jungle adventure. Caracol Archaeological Site is located just beyond the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve at the entrance of the Chiquibul Forrest Reserve. It is the largest archaeological site in Belize. The Barton Creek cave system is located in the Upper Barton Creek area. It offers a one of a kind cave canoeing tour that takes you through the intricate channels of the cave system. Caves Branch is also a very popular destination that is located in the Belmopan area off the Humming Bird Highway. The Burns Avenue Promenade is a strip along the main street in the center of San Ignacio Town that offers a variety of restaurants, gift shops, and shopping centers and is an extension of the Cayo Welcome Center. With recent discoveries, Burns Avenue now showcases archaeological findings that were unearthed during construction. The Cayo Welcome Center is the newest addition to San Ignacio and Santa Elena Town. It offers a scenic meeting place for the residents of SISE to enjoy events and activities. Spanish Lookout settlement has seen much development over recent years and is recognized for its increase in commercial activities. Spanish Lookout produces much of the country’s supply of poultry, dairy products, agricultural crops, ani mal feeds and farming supplies. It is also the home of Belize Natural Energy. Hawksworth Bridge was built in 1949. The iconic suspension bridge connects the twin towns of San Ignaico and Santa Elena and serves as a part of the George Price Highway. El Pilar Archaeological Reserve is located in the Bullet Tree Village, west of San Ignacio Town. The Macal River banks are home to hundreds of species of birds and animals such as endangered green iguanas. It offers a scenic canoe tour and serves as an essential water supply source.

Xunantunich

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1.5 Inter-regional transportation links The main means of transportation to and from San Ignacio and Santa Elena is by road, with the George Price Highway being the most important. This highway stretches from Belize City and passes along the national capital of Belmopan as well as numerous others villages until it reaches the western most point along the Belize-Guatemala border. There is also a lesser-used road that stretches from the Spanish Lookout area along villages like Santa Familia and Bullet Tree that leads into San Ignacio as well. Inter-city public transportation is a fairly cheap and reliable service that connects the villages and other towns in the country. There are several bus operators that have scheduled runs in and out of the twin towns. There are two airstrips that are located within ten minutes from the municipality by car. The Central Farm airstrip located on mile 63 of the George Price Highway, between Central Farm and Esperanza Village. There is also the Maya Flats airstrip located between San Ignacio and Benque Viejo. Air travel is less used than road transportation because of the much higher price. Currently, Tropic Air flies to Maya Flats, while Javier’s Travel uses the C entral Farm airstrip but currently only does chartered flights.

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San Ignacio / Santa Elena Municipal Development Plan MUNICIPAL SCALE 1.6 History and culture

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In the early 1900s, San Ignacio and Santa Elena were two villages that carried the name EL CAYO. The mayor in those days was Mr. Hector Silva. San Ignacio Town Council was founded on October 19, 1904 by the government of British Honduras. The only access to the area at the time was via steam boats which were known as Cayo boats. It took approximately four days to travel from the then El Cayo to Belize City. The boats brought dried goods and canned foods from Belize City and took fresh bananas, fruits, vegetables, livestock and wild game on their return. Logwood and mahogany cutting were the main economic drivers at the time. The main industry was “chicle” which is the milky sap of the sapodilla tree exported for chewing gum. The construction of the Hawksworth Bridge in 1949 brought immense economic development to both towns. The introduction of secondary and tertiary level education brought significant economic development as well. 1.7 Current land area The area of the existing boundaries of San Ignacio is approximately 2.68 sq. miles, and that of Santa Elena is approximately 2.89 sq. miles, giving the municipality a total area of 5.57 sq. miles. 1.8 Population The last census conducted in Belize was done in 2010. These statistics show that the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena currently have a population of 17,878. The Municipality of San Ignacio and Santa Elena is the second largest municipality/urban area in the country after Belize City. The population has shown a steady increase over the past decades. Statistics show a rate of increase of 4.4% per annum during the period 1991-2000 when the town’s population increased from 8,900 to 13,300; and a 3% rate of annual increase during the period 2000-2010. According to SIB, the average household size in 2010 was 3.9 persons per household. Growth in the twin towns can be attributed to many factors including natural population growth as well as positive migration into the twin towns. This is the largest urban area in close proximity to the border. As a result, migrants from the Central American countries initially settle here before leaving for other areas of the country. Many Guatemalans get employment in the construction and agricultural sector. A large proportion remains and thus contributes to population growth. The area has also experienced an influx of Chinese immigrants who have settled in the twin towns to be entrepreneurs in retail and the restaurant business. Some of these businesses are centrally located in downtown on Burns Avenue in San Ignacio and the George Price Highway in Santa Elena. Finally,

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there is also a general migration of workers from the adjacent villages to the town in search of employment. The new oil industry located in the Cayo District has also led to an influx of workers to the twin towns in need of accommodation. Age Distribution. When a comparison is done on age distribution, statistics show that the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena have a large young population who are younger than 15 years old. This follows the national trend with about 60% of the population being below the age of 30 and about 25% being below the age of 15. Conversely, the population above the age of 65 is around 10%. The working population therefore is somewhere around 60%. Sex Distribution. There are slightly more females than males in San Ignacio and Santa Elena with the last census showing 9,127 females and 8,751 males (sex ratio = 95.8 female to male). This however is balanced by the neighboring villages which have a slightly higher male to female ratio. There is no evidence of gender disparity as a result of the above sex ratio. Population by highest level of education complete. In comparison to other urban cities/towns, San Ignacio and Santa Elena ranks 2nd in terms of the educational level of the population. The residents in our area have easier accessibility to post secondary and university education. There are three high schools in the twin towns and the University College of Belize is located about 22 miles away while Galen University is only about seven miles away. Baseline population (2012). Starting with SISE’s 2010 census figure (17,878) and using SIB’s projected growth rate of 2.81% per annum until 2020, SISE’s baseline population would be 18,896 in 2012. 1.9 Economy and labor force The prime economic sector of the local economy is the services sector. The twin towns are strategically located and form the business, tourism and service sector in Western Cayo. Transportation to and from the western border of Belize passes through the twin towns and this allows for various allied industries to thrive, including vehicle repair and maintenance shops, insurance agencies, service stations etc. San Ignacio is the commercial hub in this region and has several financial institutions including banks, credit unions, and other money lending agencies. There are several shops and restaurants as well as wholesale outlets. Tourism is also a major economic factor in the twin towns. There are several hotels and resorts which are sustained by numerous services such as tour guiding, taxi service, catering, artisan shops, etc. Housing construction has declined in the last couple of years with the discontinuation of the Government Housing Project. This project was designed to construct hundreds of low cost housing units for low and middle income families. This project was only partially successful. The government’s focus is on infrastructure development with the construction of roads, drains, bridges etc. Therefore, within the last ten years, residential construction has seen a decline in and infrastructure construction has seen an increase.

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Labour force. The employed labour force is mainly in the services industry, namely in restaurants, hotels and government services. Over the past ten years, despite the high unemployment rate, the labour force has become more educated. There are more high school graduates seeking tertiary education because of the availability of the sixth form and university level education. Secondary education has also become less costly since the government currently offers free education for second year students at tertiary institutions. The labour force in the twin towns has historically been affected by seasonal employment in the agriculture sector where harvesting of crops (such as oranges, beans, and corn) occurs on a regular but seasonal basis. Recently, the petroleum industry has added a large amount of jobs in that industry. This is expected to remain for the next couple of years but may decrease as petroleum reserves dwindle. Unemployment. Over the past ten years the unemployment rate in SISE has fluctuated similar for other municipalities. One of the reasons for this is because some of the jobs are seasonal e.g. employment in the tourist industry and short term employment–government/municipal projects. It is noted that women are less likely to get employed than men and generally earn less. The working population of the twin towns has also suffered from a slowdown of the construction industry. This has resulted in many of them being laid off and not being able to find work at home. As construction resumes in areas such as San Pedro and Placencia, there will be opportunities for further employment. Household Income and Poverty. The poverty rate for the twin towns in 2009 was 29% compared to 22% in 2002. This was about half of the poverty rate for the rural areas in the Cayo District. This poverty rate can be partially attributed to a contraction of the construction industry. Household income is not readily available however due to the large percentage of the population involved in the service and construction sector. It can be estimated that the annual household income would be somewhere between BZ$12,000 and BZ$15,000. Tourism. Over the past ten years, our municipality has seen an increase in the number of businesses in the tourism industry. We have seen several resorts in our area that provide a variety of outdoor nature activities. We also have seen an increase in tour operators who provide tours countrywide. The increase in these tourism businesses has increased employment for the younger population. Remittances. The majority of remittances come from the USA and Canada. There is no data on what amounts are involved, however local sources suggest that these remittances have decreased over the last few years. An approximate value would put these remittances at 10 to 15% of household income. Conversely, there is also an active remittance of funds to families in Central America. These can be significant considering the immigrant population in the twin towns.

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San Ignacio / Santa Elena Municipal Development Plan 1.10 Spatial development pattern, land, and land use

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Municipal Zones. Both towns that comprise the municipality have been divided into 9 major zones each. Arterial, major and collector roads are the main features that influence the distribution of zones.

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Boundary. The size of the area within SISE’s municipal boundary is somewhere around 3 ,580 acres. There are neighbourhoods that are considered as part of the town but are actually outside this limit. However they are still serviced by the municipality especially by garbage collection and cleaning. These neighbourhoods form an integral part of the municipality. The only issue is the legal boundary. To date the legal boundaries of the towns are being reconsidered and a new boundary for San Ignacio and Santa Elena has been proposed covering an area of 5,477 acres.

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Growth pattern. For the last few years, housing development has been taking place in the Hillview and Aguado areas in Santa Elena. Hillview is serviced with piped water and electricity and Aguada lacks those services but has an excellent location next to the Western Highway. In San Ignacio, the areas that have been experiencing development include Kotiki Area and the Kontiki extension, both with access to piped water and electricity, as well as Boiton, which lacks services. Land use. Residential neighbourhoods of San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns are identified in several zones. In San Ignacio Town these include Independence Square Area, Santiago Juan Layout, Collins Sub-Division, Cahal Pech Area, Maya Vista Area, Kontiki Area, Forestry Department Area, Moraton Area, Barrio Pobre Area. In Santa Elena Town residential areas include Aguada Area, Trapiche Area, New Area, Santa Elena School Area, Hillview Area, Linda Vista Area, Santa Cruz Area, Santa Cruz Extension, Santa Elena School Area and Downtown Area. Industrial areas were originally designated for Santa Elena Town. However, these industrial lots were never used as such and gradually were subdivided into residential lots. An existing industrial area in Santa Elena Town is Western Gas Company. In San Ignacio Town, Cayo Tropical Fruits and Big H Products located on Joseph Andrews Drive are examples of private estate utilized as industrial parcels. Other industries in town include block factories that are located within residential areas and are usually a nuisance to the neighbourhood. Overall the twin towns do not have an established industrial zone, thus discomfort amongst the community arises due to unplanned zones and haphazard trade. Commercial areas are gradually developing along the major traffic routes of both towns which include George Price Highway, George Price Avenue, Carillo Puerto Avenue, Burns Avenue, Hudson Street, Joseph Andrews Drive, Buena Vista Street and the Down Town Areas of West Street, Far West Street and Bullet Tree Road. The increase in Asian-owned stores contrasts with the decrease of traditional “mom and pop” shops. Utility companies, banking institutions and private medical services are centrally located within both towns. There has been an increase in the number of supermarkets. The majority of family-owned hotels have evolved from private estates to resorts and large hotels. San Ignacio Resort Hotel, Cahal Pech Resort, Aguada’s and Midas Resort are some of the major hotels in the service industry. Approximately 24 smaller hotels are spread across both towns. Schools and health centres are evenly distributed across both towns and are easily accessible for residents. Recreational areas including parks and playgrounds are located in strategic areas within each residential zone. More developed recreational areas such as the Cayo Welcome Centre and the Burns Avenue Promenade are tourist oriented. Underdeveloped recreational areas such as the Macal River Banks, Peter August Race Track and the Santa Elena Football Stadium can provide better recreational facilities for residents with some investment. There is a significant demand for established commercial and industrial land. Residential land is currently available. Industrial activity within residential areas is a major concern at present. Mechanic shops with cars parked on the streets, body shops with fumes and chemicals spreading in

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the vicinity, carpentry workshops with sawdust and noise pollution along with block making factories are some of the concerns of citizens to date.

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Commercial areas can be established. It is a matter of the municipality establishing policies or incentives for the commercial zones to be organized by sector and for them to be proportionally spread across the towns. The municipality would need to undertake a study in this respect as a matter of creating commercial areas in different areas of the town, hence minimizing ever-growing traffic congestion downtown. With the tourism industry booming in the country and San IgnacioSanta Elena being a hub for tourism destinations in the district; consideration ought to be placed for providing the proper facilities and support policies. Housing. Typical plot sizes in SISE range between 50 x 75 ft (3,750 sq. ft) and 100 x 100 ft (10,000 sq. ft). For such a lot, typical market cost ranges from BZ$8,000 to 25,000. A plot of prime residential land could cost between BZ$ 40,000 to 75,000. If we assumed that a household does not spend more than 30% of its annual income on housing, households would have to make between BZD 15,000 and 47,000 per year to be able to afford the costs of an average plot of land in SISE1. This is clearly above the average income of most households in SISE and it is why governmentsubsidized schemes have been the primary way of accessing land in the towns. “Gross” vacant land. There are 1,571 acres of vacant land in SISE based on the analysis of the land use map provided by the Lands Information Centre. This is a “gross” figure that includes all vacant plots as well as all land that is being used for agriculture. Considerations limiting the suitability of this vacant land for development still need to be analyzed to come up with a “net” vacant land figure. Land tenure. Public land is very minimal within the town. Those owned by the municipality could include the following: Town Hall Location, Public Library Location. Macal River Park, Columbus Park, Cayo Welcome Centre Location, Farmer’s Market Location, Cemetery San Ignacio, Falcon Field, Theodosio Ochoa Park, Godoy’s Park, Flamingo Park, Independence Park, Santiago Juan Park, Shawville Park, Santa Elena Cemetery, Joseph Andrews Park, Santa Cruz Park, Loma Luz Park, and Loma Luz Basketball Court. Those parcels owned by the central government include: Police Station, Broaster stadium, Old Hospital Site, New Hospital Site, Land Department premises, Reserve on the banks of the Macal River, and properties behind the police station. Urbanized area size. The size of SISE’s urbanized area has been estimated at 1,062 acres. This area includes all plots with an assigned land use and thereby excludes large, mostly open space lots and all vacant lots. Public rights of ways serving the urbanized area have been accounted for by adding an additional 30% to the previous figure. Population density. The population density of SISE’s urbanized area is 17.8 persons/acre. This figure results from dividing the baseline population (18,896) by the size of the urbanized area (1,062 acres).

1

Assuming a 20 year loan, a 13% annual interest rate and a 20% downpayment.

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1.11 Environmental, ecological and green areas The main ecological zones are the river banks on both towns. Some banks are being eroded and are creating a hazard to the property owners next to them. It is important to note the importance of the orange orchard in San Ignacio and similar orchards or pastures in Santa Elena. Our hypothesis is that these provide a great level of control and barriers for sediments not to flow into the river at great volumes. A careful study ought to be done regarding this theory. With the construction of the bridge, we should see if any comments were made in the EIA in this regard. Of equal importance is the sensitivity of the Macal River Banks. To date there are three sewerage water drains that lead into the river. With the ever expanding number of households, the construction of concrete drains, and the increase of tourism, the river is likely to suffer the effects of contamination. This is a major tourist attraction and represents the source of water for many villages downstream. With our towns’ waters continuously been drained in an untreated manner, the life span of the river could be declining. Although the Branch Mouth area is not within the town limits, any development on this area would have a negative impact for the residents of SISE. This area is heavily used for recreation by residents of SISE and the surrounding communities (park, swimming in the river, iguana watching). The Natural reserves are only in the Cahal Pech Area in town which has already been surrounded by developments. Careful attention ought to be placed on avoiding deforestation in this area. SISE, Map of the urbanized area and areas for environmental conservation

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Parks are built and maintained by the Town Council. Maintenance is done through subcontracting. However with the declining green areas in town, the council should probably reconsider improving the parks by planting more appropriate trees. 1.12 Public spaces Public spaces are becoming minimal as the years go by. The increasing population is demanding for more police sub-stations, utility sub-offices, medical centers and entertainment areas. Parks can only fulfill some of these demands. A strategy has to be developed considering decentralization of activities around the town itself to better accommodate the needs of those living on the marginal areas. We consider that with the decentralization of services, other economic activities could spring up in these areas, thus creating more employment. 1.13 Cultural, archaeological and historic assets Within the boundaries of the municipality, the only protected area is the Cahal Pech Archaeological Reserve, located in the south-central portion of San Ignacio as illustrated by the above map. Our town’s being the hub for tourist destinations in the district, the council needs to establish an identity, maintain visual landmarks that highlight its history and look for opportunities that will create more opportunities for the local tourism sector. At this point in time these are being lost and an urgent effort has to be done to restore them. We are losing physical and human assets and it is time that we expedite every effort to maintain them. 1.14 Recreational facilities Sports facilities will be upgraded to an acceptable standard by 2014. Swimming areas can be improved next to the river banks. Our culture is presently not too concerned with swimming pools since there are plenty of natural water features in the district. Public recreational programs would have to be done by the council and other organizations such as Nich.

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San Ignacio / Santa Elena Municipal Development Plan 1.15 Transportation and accessibility

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There are four main means of transportation that people use to have access to the different areas of town, primarily:  Taxi. There are over 200 taxi licenses being issued by the Traffic Department for the towns. Taxi fares range from $5.00 to $10.00 per trip.  Buses in Transit. Approximately every half hour a bus to or from Belize City will pass through the town. Many people in lower income areas may wait for these to take them closer to their destination.  Private vehicles: A large number of the population has vehicles.  Walking to schools and stores is the major reason people leave their homes. Fortunately, these are strategically located around town hence not much walking has to be done. Bus waiting area. Though there is not a bus terminal in the municipality, passengers await buses at the newly constructed Cayo Welcome Center. These passengers typically travel from one area to the next for employment. A significant number of residents from San Ignacio and Santa Elena are employed in Belmopan, where most of the government offices are located. The busiest times of the day would therefore be when these workers leave and return from work - at 7:00 am and at 5:00 pm. Traffic. The current situation of the bus waiting area is causing traffic congestion and the council is looking at different options to relocate the bus stop facility. With the taxi association located in the down town area, parking becomes especially limited on Fridays and Saturdays. This, tied with the amount of vehicles in the municipality has created a huge area of concern for the Traffic Department in the downtown area, especially Burns Avenue, Hudson Street and the Savannah area. This becomes more evident on Saturdays when vendors from the municipalities and the surrounding villages come to sell their produce at the local market. Name of Taxi Association Mid-town Bullet Tree Independence Alliance Courtesy Cayo Independent Taxi Assoc. Savannah Location Hudson Street Wyatt Street Riverside Street Savannah Street La Loma Luz Hospital Riverside Street Welcome Centre

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Road network. Almost all built-up and developing areas have road access, even if the road type is the most rudimentary.

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San Ignacio / Santa Elena Municipal Development Plan 1.16 Priority investments and future known projects

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Approved or pre-approved projects:  BZ$ 5 million for upgrading local sporting facilities. To be completed by early 2015;  New bridge (BZ$ 50 million) to be completed by 2016;  Improve current market facility (BZ$ 250,000 – with CARILED). To be completed by April 2014;  BMDP street improvement (BZ$ 2 million). Projects that the council would like to pursue:  River Walk concept plan;  Shopping mall concept;  Relocation of bus terminal;  Market for Santa Elena;  Multi-purpose municipal building;  Redevelopment of the Norman Broaster Stadium. 1.17 Hazards, risks and disaster preparedness In the last few years the municipalities have seen a drastic decline in flooding; this can be attributed to the Challilo, Mollejon and Vaca Dams which act as containment areas for the Macal River. However, low-lying areas near the banks of the Mopan and Macal Rivers are still prone to flooding. Areas within San Ignacio and Santa Elena that are vulnerable to flooding include those areas between the Hawksworth Bridge and the wooden bridge. Flooding in these areas is a result of heavy rainfall inundating the Macal River. Experience has shown that the high banks on the Santa Elena side of the Macal River has protected residents from flood damage while the river swells into the lower lying areas of San Ignacio Town. According to the study by Chung’s Engineering Co. Ltd., Municipal Drainage Assessment (June 2010), there are at least two areas that are susceptible to flooding, namely the Sacred Heart College Area affecting approximately 150 households, two schools and a major traffic route; and the Requena/Bradley Street affecting approximately 80 residents. Although the towns have never experienced a flash flood as a result of Dam failure, the Government of Belize has developed a national multi-hazard contingency plan - The Belize National Disaster Management Plan. As a result of this plan, NEMO – CAYO developed a district Flood Contingency plan mandated by NEMO, to provide a comprehensive disaster management

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strategy with complementing disaster management plans at the national level. These are further mirrored at the district and are more localized at the village levels. EVENT/DATE IMPACT Flooding in San Ignacio, Santa Familia, Damage to crops, livestock and other Bullet Tree and Calla Creek from material property Tropical depression #16, October 2008 Flooding in Cayo District, June 2002 Damage to Beaver Creek bridge, necessitating replacement Flooding in San Ignacio from Hurricane Damage to hydro-electric dam area Roxanne, 1995

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During the threat of a hurricane, residents of the coastal areas flock to the inland districts to seek shelter where damages are minimal. Protected by its hilly terrain, San Ignacio and Santa Elena have seen very minimal damage resulting from hurricane winds. There are nine identified shelters within San Ignacio and Santa Elena hosting a capacity of 4,130 persons. Updating and renovating existing shelter facilities need to be considered. Actions taken in advance of a disaster to minimize loss of life and damage include organizing temporary removal of people and property from a threatened location, facilitate timely and effective rescue, relief rehabilitation (which would enhance response, recovery and reconstruction actions) after the disaster. As experience has shown, the lower lying wooden bridge becomes impassable during flooding and SISE Town Council takes assertive action in the control of traffic flow including diverting traffic routes, allocating available evacuation transportation and liaising with NEMO to coordinate use of equipment and resources. Fire disasters are not frequent in San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns, however as experience has indicated, due to poor building codes, the fires of 1968 and 1971 destroyed more than half of the business community in the downtown area.

1.18 Infrastructure and utilities The electricity network displayed is for the main high voltage distribution lines (22,000V) and low voltage (220V) lines. Lines to individual locations (110 volts) are not represented. Residential areas with no coverage in Santa Elena are those adjacent to a portion of the current north-eastern boundaries. In San Ignacio, the area known as the Boiton division just south of the current boundaries as well as the area immediately west of the Bishop Martin primary school have no electrical coverage. The rest of the built-up areas of the twin towns, as well as areas outside of the current boundaries such as Shawville (the area located furthest to the south of San Ignacio), enjoy electrical coverage. All built-up areas within the town boundaries are covered by the solid waste collection service provided by the town council. Each zone is covered at least one time per week. Businesses also get serviced however the business cannot be mapped as an official zone.

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1.19 Municipal management, administration and financing The current town boundaries for SISE include 3,565 acres, which the council must upkeep on a daily basis. Development within the boundary is very straining because of lack of proper boundary planning and is thus creating conflicts with land owners outside the current boundaries. A new town boundary was proposed which comprises 5,477 acres and will incorporate the majority of these outside lands and place them within the town limits. At the present moment, subdivisions which are located outside the current boundary receive services from the council. Such areas include the Shawville area, Captal Heights, Susanna Bradley sub-division, Daniel Silva sub-division, Maya Mountain Lodge, Boiton Area, and the Branch Mouth Road. Examples of these services are: 1. Garbage collection 2. Drainage cleaning and maintenance 3. Street clearance and maintenance 4. Land Clearance due to over grown vegetation 5. Street lights We must bear in mind that these subdivision are currently out of the SISE jurisdictions and these services are essential demands. This new proposed boundary will eventually boost the property tax revenue and will help us avoid any court action which the council faces at the present moment due to conflicting information gathered from the Ministry of Natural Resources, hence creating inconsistencies with the landowner(s) and the SISE Town Council. The council’s budget stands at $BZ 2 million for the year 2012-2013 and its main revenue comes from property taxes, trade licenses, liquor licenses, traffic, market stall rentals, garbage collection and, last but not least, the Welcome Centre. Some revenue collection comes in different methods, for example the Traffic Department collects fees for licensing vehicles, license plates, permits (learners), drivers’ license ID cards, vehicles registration, traffic violation tickets. Revenue for Welcome Centre comes from the rental of buildings, bus fees, toilet fees and parking. Every district council has a different tax rate. The SISE Town Council has a 7% charge for occupied lots and a 2% charge for unoccupied (vacant) lots. Trade licenses also have a tax rate of 25% on rental value. SISE Town Council has recently employed a Revenue Manager with the intentions to increase collections of outstanding revenues. Since May 2013 the department has commenced various collection strategies which includes delivery of property tax statements to occupied properties, identifying accounts that exceed the statue of limitations, demand letters, stop orders to delinquent Trade License, public notices, site visitations and routine telephone contact.

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CHAPTER 2: VISION, STRATEGY AND DEVELOPMENT SCENARIOS

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San Ignacio / Santa Elena in 2030 is envisioned as:       2.2 A vibrant municipality offering a multitude of services to residents and businesses; A peaceful municipality that continues to foster harmony and social well-being among its residents; To become the number 1 inland destination tourism hub in Belize proud of its local history, nature and cultural traditions; A well managed municipality equipped with efficient and modern infrastructure; A modern municipality with a strong local economy conscious of a healthy, green environment; A well planned town that encourages proper land uses and management. SISE Development Strategy

The vision for SISE is pursued through a comprehensive strategy that includes a range of development policies and planning proposals. 2.2.1 Existing population projections There are two available population projections for Belizean urban areas—those provided by SIB (through 2020) and by the World Bank study (through 2050). 2 While both are supported in past population growth figures, the World Bank estimates are higher because they account for overall urbanization trends as foreseen by the United Nations Population Division (UN-DESA) for Belize in 2020-2050. The World Bank growth projections of individual cities/towns are based on UN-DESA urban population projections for Belize during the period 2020- 2050. The total number of urban residents in all cities/towns in a given year was constrained to equal the projected total urban population in that year. Then, the added population to a given municipality was assumed to be proportional to the average of three values: the population that was added to the municipality between 1991 and 2000, the population that was added to the municipality between 1980 and 2000, and the population that was added to the municipality between 1970 and 2000. 3 The figure below summarizes the World Bank projections until 2030 for the towns and cities that are relevant for the “MDP—Preparation of Development Plans project”.

2

The World Bank. Belize Housing Policy. Diagnosis and Guidelines for Action. Latin America and the Caribbean Region. June 2011

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Figure 1: World Bank study urban population projections for Belize
City and town Corozal Orange Walk Benque Belmopan Danriga Punta Gorda 2010 9,901 13,400 5,824 13,351 9,096 5,205 2020 14,583 17,538 29,082 9,135 27,067 11,521 8,078 211,000 Annual % Change* 3.9% 2.7% 5.5% 4.6% 7.3% 2.4% 4.5% 4.3% 2030 17,955 20,518 37,800 11,520 36,945 13,268 10,147 263,000 Annual % Change* 2.1% 1.6% 2.7% 2.3% 3.2% 1.4% 2.3% 2.2%

San Ignacio/Santa Elena 16,977

Total Urban 138,796 Note: * = added by Consulting team Source: The World Bank (2011)

The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) growth projections of individual cities are estimated with a mathematical model based on the 2000 and 2010 population censuses. The population was estimated at the national level, then disaggregated based on the growth patterns of the various districts and urban/rural areas. The figure below summarizes SIB’s projections until 2020 for the towns and cities that are relevant for the “MDP—Preparation of Development Plans project”. Figure 2: SIB Belize Postcensal Population Estimates, 2010 to 2020
Census 2010 Area Corozal Town Orange Walk Town San Ignacio/Santa Elena Benque Viejo Belmopan Dangriga Punta Gorda 10,287 13,709 17,878 6,148 13,931 9,591 5,351 Annual Growth Rate* (2000-2010) 2.6% 0.1% 3.0% 1.3% 10.6% 1.1% 2.0% Estimated Mid Annual Growth Year Population Rate* (2020) (2010-2020) 13,314 13,665 23,583 7,087 25,583 10,680 6,530 187,249 2.61% -0.03% 2.81% 1.44% 6.26% 1.08% 2.01% 2.53%

Country Urban 145,829 2.7% Note: * = added by Consulting team Source: SIB

2.2.2 Population Growth Scenarios for SISE Starting with a population of 16,977 in 2010, the World Bank study projects that SISE will reach 29,082 by 2020 and 37,800 by 2030, what would mean expanding at annual growth rates of 5.5% and 2.7% respectively between 2010-2020 and 2020-2030. SIB’s projections are more moderate and estimate that SISE will reach 23,583 by 2020 and thus it would expand at an average rate of 2.81% per annum.

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Figure 3: Existing population growth projections for SISE

Based on SISE’s baseline population (2012) of 18,896 this LPWG has prepared three population growth scenarios for 2020 and 2030: 1. Scenario 1 matches the World Bank’s growth rate projections. It assumes a stronger growth rate of 5.5% per annum until 2020 that would go down to 2.6 % in 2020-2030; 2. Scenario 2 matches SIB’s growth rate projections. It assumes a growth rate of 2.8% per annum until 2020 and in 2020-2030. This scenario illustrates what would happen under the “business as usual” situation. 3. Scenario 3 is an intermediate projection between a stronger scenario projected by the World Bank and a more conservative one projected by SIB. It is based on the assumption that SISE will be an attractive town. Thus, a population growth rate is estimated at 4.1% per annum until 2020 and then at 2.5% in 2020-2030. Assuming that part of that growth will be absorbed by the neighboring communities, as is the case in other towns in Belize.

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Figure 4: Population growth scenarios 1, 2 and 3 Year Population Annual % change Number of households Total Change Scenario 1: growth rates similar to WB’s 2012 18,896 -4,599 2020 29,065 5.5% 7,266 2,688 2030 37,791 2.6% 9,690 2,424 Scenario 2: growth rates similar to SIB’s 2012 18,896 -4,599 -2020 23,586 2.8% 5,896 1,298 2030 31,118 2.8% 7,979 2,082 Scenario 3: Intermediate growth 2012 18,896 -4,599 -2020 26,160 4.1% 6,540 1,941 2030 33,488 2.5% 8,587 2,046 Figure 5: Population growth scenarios for SISE

The assumed average household size in SISE is 4.1 (SIB 2010), and is projected to move down to 4.0 in 2020 and 3.9 in 2030. Estimation of future land needs (2020 and 2030). Once the population has been projected, we can estimate the amount of additional land that will be required to meet projected growth. Additional land requirements are based on the level of land consumption necessary to build new housing to accommodate new households, as well as shops and other commercial enterprises, schools, health facilities, government buildings, infrastructure, parks and other public open spaces necessary to support a town’s population and economic activities.

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The estimation of land needs is based on the assumption that development will maintain the current urbanized area density in SISE of 17.8 persons / acre. The underlying rationale for this is that at these early stages of the planning process the room needed to accommodate the projected growth should not be unnecessary limited. This initial estimation of land needs is intended to provide an initial figure that could be further refined as part of the work for Chapter 3 on land use planning. The “gross” amount of vacant land available within the proposed municipal boundary was estimated at 1,571 acres. Of this, 1,099 acres have been identified as “net” vacant land preliminary suitable to accommodate development. Pending of additional analysis to exclude or limit development in those areas, it can be preliminary asserted that SISE municipality has enough vacant land to accommodate the projected population growth under any of the three scenarios. Figure 6: Estimation of land needs for Scenarios 1, 2 and 3 Year Population Population Urbanized area “Gross” vacant density land (persons / acre) Total Change Amount left (acres) (acres) (acres) Scenario 1: growth rates similar to WB 2012 18,896 1,062 -1,571 2020 29,065 17.8 1,634 +572 999 2030 37,791 2,124 +490 509 Scenario 2: growth rates similar to SIB 2012 18,896 1,062 -1,571 2020 23,586 17.8 1,326 +264 1,307 2030 31,118 1,749 +423 884 Scenario 3: Intermediate growth 2012 18,896 1,062 -1,571 2020 26,160 17.8 1,470 +408 1,163 2030 33,488 1,882 +412 751

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2.2.3 Development Strategy Policies and Proposals The San Ignacio / Santa Elena Development Strategy outlines policies and interventions to manage the municipality under these population growth scenarios in ways that begin to achieve the vision of the town. These interventions include the kinds of services that can be provided and the opportunities that can be leveraged to meet the needs of the municipality. Policy 1: Tourism development  San Ignacio maintains and improves its tourism position as a place that must be visited in Belize  Urban beautification and improvement of the overall urban environment  Attract retirees  Attract local tourism and international tourism  Commerce as a magnet  Hold international and local sport tournaments  Branding strategy: combine modern and ancient Specific proposals to advance this policy:  Create tourist itineraries linking the main tourist destinations in town. Policy 2: Economic development  San Ignacio / Santa Elena as a destination (vs. a bypass), offering a good location for business suppliers  Provide zoning guidelines to guide the location of different businesses activities (i.e. mechanic shops) based on compatibility with the surrounding environment Specific proposals to advance this policy:  Encourage investment in downtown SISE to make the downtown a booming business and tourism centre Policy 3: Improve infrastructure services  Provide adequate and proper drainage infrastructure  Develop a long term vision for a sewer system for the municipality;  Coordinate with utility companies and PUC (Public Utilities Commission) to provide water and electricity services in the areas that do not have;  Provide paved streets and sidewalks, prioritizing arterial and collector roads. Policy 4: Planning and Development  Create more linkages between downtown San Ignacio and Santa Elena  Make the downtown SISE a business and tourism centre

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 Embrace higher building densities in selected which areas are more suitable for this type of development.  Identify suitable commercial zones and provide incentives for investment in those zones  Encourage commercial growth for Santa Elena to spread commercial activities in both sides of town Figure 7: San Ignacio / Santa Elena preliminary development concept diagram

Specific proposals to advance this policy:  Concentrate residential and retail uses to create a vibrant and active downtown SISE that acts as a destination;  Require higher density standards downtown (smaller plot sizes, no setbacks and party walls). This will allow utilizing space to the maximum and eliminating leftover unused outdoor spaces where garbage accumulates and criminal activity can occur;

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 Joseph Andrews Drive residential zone should evolve into a commercial and trade zone;  Provide Santa Elena with a commercial center, a new market, and upgrade the sports complex;  Change use of Norman Broaster old stadium located on prime land and create a new site for development that would include a parking area serving downtown;  Build a new town hall (currently condemned) with expanded space and redevelop the current site for uses (either by lease or sale) that would support economic development that benefits the town—meets the goals and objectives articulated in the development plan. Policy 5: Architecture and urban design  Preserve historic architecture and current stock of buildings +100 years old  Provide architectural design guidelines through building codes so that character of SISE’ s historic ensemble is maintained in terms of design quality and scale Specific proposals to advance this policy:  Provide incentives for property owners to contribute to town beautification by improving the facades of their buildings.  Link this project with public space improvements and tourism itineraries. Policy 6: Transportation  Improve traffic management and traffic flow to reduce congestion;  Finding a suitable area for the bus terminal.  Develop a local public transportation policy in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, including a bus shuttle linking the new residential areas;  Legislate and provide new areas for parking. Specific proposals to advance this policy:  Use the new road and bridge to divert major truck traffic;  Capitalize on the enhanced connectivity brought to promote commercial development. Policy 7: Municipal administration and management  Ensure that a proper administration and organizational structure is in place to meet the growing demands of the residents of SISE;  Professionalize municipal staff: upgrade the level of professional expertise of town council staff in order to better address the needs of a growing population;  Coordinate with central government departments and agencies for better access to data, urban planning and decision-making  Consolidate the various street address systems and streets signage;  Implement and enforce the recommendations from the Revenue Enhancement Program (i.e. trade licences, various taxes, fees and land assessment);

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CHAPTER 3: LAND USE PROPOSALS

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3.1 Introduction: Land Use Planning and Draft Municipal Development Plans The San Ignacio / Santa Elena Municipal Development Plan expresses the preferred form of development in and around the twin towns to cater to their present and future needs. The San Ignacio / Santa Elena Local Planning Working Group has drawn up development scenarios, and from these various policies objectives and actions have been recommended, which range over issues from land use to economic development to social progress. Chapter Three of the MDP focuses on bringing the observations of Chapter One (Assessment of Existing Conditions) and the projections and development scenarios of Chapter Two (Vision, Strategy and Development Scenarios) into the Land Use Plan. This consists of both map-based and text-based information. Phased Implementation. As the development proposals made in the MDP, whether map-based or text-based, are wide-ranging, and are intended to cater for a wide variety of future needs, the implementation of those proposals must be given a phasing format. Some proposals may be implementable in the short term (a nominal 1 – 3 years), some in the medium term (4 – 8 years), and some in the long term (9 – 16 years). Consequently, Chapter Three MDP proposals are assessed and categorized for their implementability in these terms. 3.2 Validation: Preferred Development Scenarios and Policies The LPWG examined three population growth scenarios to estimate the necessary land requirements and based its assessment of projected growth on an intermediate scenario. The adopted scenario is an intermediate projection between a stronger scenario projected by the World Bank and a more conservative one projected by SIB. It is based on the assumption that SISE will be an attractive town and thereby have a population growth rate estimated at 4.1% per annum until 2020 and then at 2.5% in 2020-2030. This, however, assumes that part of that growth will be absorbed by the neighboring communities, as is the case with other towns in Belize. Population growth scenario Year Population Annual % change Number of households Total Change Scenario: Intermediate growth 2012 18,896 -4,599 -2020 26,160 4.1% 6,540 1,941 2030 33,488 2.5% 8,587 2,046 The assumed average household size in San Ignacio / Santa Elena is 4.1 (SIB 2010), and this is projected to decrease to 4.0 in 2020 and to 3.9 in 2030. Estimation of future land needs (2020 and 2030). Once the population has been projected, the amount of additional land required to meet projected growth can be estimated. Additional land requirements are based on the level of land consumption necessary to build new housing to accommodate new households, as well as shops and other commercial enterprises, schools, health facilities, government buildings, infrastructure, parks and other public open spaces necessary to

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support a town’s population and economic activities. The estimation of land needs is based on the assumption that development will maintain the current urbanized area density in SISE of 17.8 persons / acre. The “gross” amount of vacant land available within the proposed municipal boundary was estimated at 1,571 acres. Of this, 1,099 acres have been identified as “net” vacant land preliminary suitable to accommodate development. From this it can be preliminarily asserted that the San Ignacio / Santa Elena municipality has sufficient vacant land to accommodate the projected population growth under this scenario. Estimation of land needs Year Population Population Urbanized area density (persons / acre) Total Change (acres) (acres) Scenario: Intermediate growth 2012 18,896 1,062 -2020 26,160 17.8 1,470 +408 2030 33,488 1,882 +412 Policies generated by the LPWG in Chapter 2 are: 1. Tourism development: to maintain and improve the position of the twin towns tourism as a primary tourism destination in Belize through improved marketing and improvement of the overall urban environment. 2. Economic development: enhance the towns’ attraction as a destination and good location for business suppliers, and through guidelines identifying optimal locations for different business activities based on compatibility with the surrounding environment. 3. Improved infrastructure: provide sustainable proper drainage, sewage, road and utility infrastructure throughout the town, particularly in liaison with the utility companies. 4. Planning urban development: create better linkages between the two towns; enhance downtown San Ignacio as a business and tourism centre; embrace higher building densities in suitable areas; identify commercial development areas and provide incentives for investment; encourage commercial growth in Santa Elena to spread commercial activities on both sides of the Macal River. 5. Architecture and urban design: preserve historic architecture and provide architectural design guidelines so that historic character is maintained. 6. Transportation: improve traffic management to reduce congestion; identify a more suitable location for the bus terminal; apply by-laws and provide new areas for parking. 7. Municipal management and administration: ensure an effective administration structure is in place to meet the growing demands of the residents of the towns; coordinate with central government departments and agencies for better access to data, urban planning and decision-making processes; implement and enforce the recommendations from the Revenue Enhancement Program.

“Gross” vacant land Amount left (acres) 1,571 1,163 751

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3.3 Overall Development Concept Here, a summary of general development concept of the MDP is described. The Module 3 workshop focused on the scenarios, objectives and actions written up in Chapter 2, and in discussion these may have been expanded or altered. The purpose here is to capture the essence of the concept. 3.3.1 General Municipal Improvement Proposals Enhancement of the historic downtown area of San Ignacio through a Downtown Improvement Scheme to boost the attraction of the area for tourism and its economic activity. Developing the core of Santa Elena as a commercial and tourism area to elevate the development profile of the east side of the Macal River. Establish improved access and economic connections between the two towns. Designation of two new Commercial Development zones: one in the east, where at the juncture of the by-pass and the George Price (Western) Highway; the other in the west at the junction of the Highway and the Kontiki road. Safeguard urban expansion areas around the twin towns: in the east mainly in the vicinity of the new by-pass, but also, in the longer-term, on the hillier land south of the Highway and along the Cristo Rey Road; in the west the objective is more to utilise land lying between existing subdivisions along the Bullet Tree Road, the Highway, and south of the Cahal Pech archaeological Reserve. In all these cases, development is to be phased – short-term, medium-term and long-term. The relocation of the bus terminal to a more strategic site which is easily accessed yet causes reduced traffic and urban inconvenience. The protection of the natural vegetation lining both sides of the Macal River (particularly upstream of the Hawksworth Bridge), and the forest cover on the higher hills lying to the south. The prioritised upgrading of infrastructure (streets & drains) in existing sub-divisions (some with little or no occupation) generally lying in the outskirts of the two towns . Drafting of general urban design guidelines (building, architecture and traffic) to guide the public, developers and GOB permitting authorities. 3.4 Land Use Proposals indicated on a map

3.4.1Town Expansion San Ignacio / Santa Elena has a relatively rich supply of land for urban expansion in the short to medium term on reasonably developable (flat to rolling) land, along with further reserves for the long-term on less immediately developable (hilly) land. However, little of this land is in public ownership. Government subdivisions over the last decade of so have been undertaken on private

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land acquired for public purposes. Urban expansion is described firstly in the Santa Elena area, and secondly in the San Ignacio area. In all cases, the town boundary referred to is the proposed one. Areas already or partially developed have also been identified for infrastructural improvement. These areas are described in 3.4.2 below. 3.4.1.1Urban Expansion in Santa Elena Expansion in the Short-Term. There are two areas identified for short-term development (1 – 4 years). The first is a block of property lying in the Aguada area, north of the route of the new bypass and east of the Trapiche Road. It is flat land, not particularly subject to any inundation, will be well connected to the by-pass and the Trapiche Road, and has a little subdivision lying between it and the by-pass. This land has been designated for mainly housing, though subdivision should include adequate recreational space, land for elementary schooling, and some commerce along the main road frontages, particularly along the by-pass. The second block is also in the Aguada area, lying west of the some recent (generally un-serviced) subdivision and north of the Highway – it extends to the town boundary with neighbouring Esperanza village. It too is flat, and generally free of the threat of flood, though access is limited to the Bradley’s Bank road on one side and the Highway at its south end – a main road will be needed to run through the block to connect these two access points. Land use in this block has been designated as ‘mixed’, meaning generous provision should be made for commercial use situated along the Highway, with the allowance of small-scale business and retail interposed with residential use. Suitable space will be required for recreation and schooling. Both of these parcels are of some few hundred acres.

The new by-pass in Santa Elena Although any urban expansion in this area may be incremental – different parts being developed at different times – an indicative master plan for both blocks would be very instrumental to ensure optimal land use and efficient service delivery.

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Figure 8: San Ignacio / Santa Elena land use planning proposals

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Expansion in the Long-Term. There are two general areas of blocks of land earmarked for longterm (10 – 15 years) urban expansion: in the Red Creek area close to Esperanza; and along the Cristo Rey Road. The first area comprises two blocks, one immediately south of the Highway and west of Esperanza with Red Creek running along its western side. This land is generally flat to rolling and has Highway frontage and a motorable road running along its eastern side. Further to the south, separated from the former by a tract of supposedly subdivided (though unoccupied) land lies the second block which is hillier than the former, and is largely under bush. This block also lies immediately east of the Hillview area of Santa Elena, which is generally built-up and relatively well serviced, though with poor roads. Part of this block is identified as having a particularly high hill which should be left undeveloped under forest. The need for a main road to service these blocks is identified as running along the existing road coming from the Highway just east of Red Creek. Part of this road will continue straight to access the back, hillier, block, while another part will then turn west to meet existing roads of the Hillview area.

Looking north from Santa Cruz area towards Hillview Due to problems with terrain – Red Creek with the former, hilly land with the latter – both blocks are reserved for longer-term urban expansion: requiring greater infrastructural preparation than the two short-term blocks. The second area lies along the Cristo Rey Road and consists of three blocks. The first block lies immediately south of the Santa Cruz area and the San Jose Road which runs along the top of the hill southwest to northeast and east of the Cristo Rey road. This is a large block of several hundred acres, with much of the land cleared for pasture. There is a half-completed resort on the crest (overlooking the land to the north), and some forest in the south east. This block is readily accessed by the San Jose Road and the Cristo Rey Road. The second block directly west of this, across the Cristo Rey road, directly south of the built-up Linda Vista estate, and next to the Macal River. The land is hilly and forested. It is separated from the third block by a belt of high forested hills best left in reserve. The third smaller block is equally hilly and forested. Both these blocks are adjacent to the sensitive Macal River reserve, and are

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serviced by the Cristo Rey road. All three blocks are designated for long-term development due to their hilly and sensitive nature, especially the latter two. 3.4.1.2Urban Expansion in San Ignacio Unlike proposals for Santa Elena, San Ignacio also has an area designated for medium-term (5 – 10 years) urban expansion. This is due to the wider variety of land types west of the Macal River. Whereas land in Santa Elena is essentially either flat or hilly, San Ignacio also has some quite extensive areas of ‘rolling’ land with little obstructions to development in the far west of the town, but lies beyond parcels that are only in the first stages of development. There is also an area designated for ‘low to medium density development’ which is subject to assessment of land suitability. Expansion in the Short-Term. There is only one block of land designated for short term (1 – 4 years) urban expansion. It is a block of several hundred acres, made up of more than one parcel, lying south of the Kontiki area, east of the Highway, north of Shawville, and readily served by Constellation Boulevard. The land is generally developable, with no obvious low or hilly parts, and is largely under secondary forest. There appears to be a small lake in the south west. Development on this block would connect the already built up Shawville with the main body of the town. Shawville was subdivided approximately twenty years ago, has 30 to 40 government built lowincome houses on it, and has electricity and water, however it lies entirely unconnected with the rest of town, and is outside of the current town boundary. Development between Shawville and Kontiki will bridge this gap, and will connect to in the east to the very partially developed area of Boiton.

Looking from Shawville towards Kontiki Road connection to this block is focused on Constellation Boulevard which runs north-south from Kontiki to Shawville, with other collector streets extending south from Kontiki, and east-west from Boiton to the Highway. Small scale commercial uses will be focused on the boulevard, yet with sites for recreation and schooling located within the block.

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Expansion in the Medium-Term. The one area, of several hundred acres, designated for mediumterm (5 – 10 years) urban expansion lies in the Santiago Juan area, on rolling land between the Bullet Tree road and the Highway. South lies a block (occupied partly by the Windy Hill resort) designated for ‘resort / eco-tourism’, while to the north, lying towards the Bullet Tree road, and the east, going towards central town, are subdivisions that are in the process of being developed (though the subdivision to the north has minimal development). A large building of five stories or more (perhaps intended as a hotel) is under construction towards the south of the block. Though the relief of the land presents few problems for expansion, attention must be paid to small creeks that run through it to the east and north. Moreover, the high tension line from the hydro plants runs south-north across the site with a substantial reserve along its alignment. The area is accessed by a relatively good road running along the southern edge, with several, generally poor, streets running into it from the subdivision to the east. There are road reserves giving access from the north, but, where they are actually made-up, they are very poor. The north-south Collins Boulevard, almost completely motorable, runs along the eastern edge. The subdivision to the immediate east (the Collins Subdivision) has electricity and water supply.

Drainage east of the medium-term block Expansion in the Long-Term. Long-term expansion (10 – 15 years) is proposed in the hilly and sensitive land lying west of the Macal River and east of the Cahal Pech and Boiton areas. The land is divided into several large private blocks, is largely forested, and has a few isolated generally upper-investment houses on it. Due to its sensitive and hilly terrain, and its close proximity to the proposed river reserve, particular care must be taken over its development, and environmentally damaging uses must be avoided. Access will be via the Martin Galvez road that runs north–south from the Octavia Waight Center to the Boiton area and connects with Figueroa Street running west–east to the Kontiki area. Electricity and water supply is already in the Cahal Pech area to the west.

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View from the Boiton area towards Cahal Pech Low to Medium Density Development. This block of several hundred acres lies at the north of the town and west of the Branchmouth Road. It is private property and is currently cultivated for citrus and other crops, and will have a stretch of the new by-pass run through its south east corner. The terrain is generally flat, though as there are low, or quarried, areas along its eastern side, its development potential requires further assessment, not least because the by-pass will pass through it. The block is also accessed by Joseph Andrews Drive which runs along its southern boundary. 3.4.2 Infrastructural Improvement Areas Various areas of the twin towns that have been subdivided and are at least partially occupied have been identified as requiring prioritised infrastructural work to bring them up to the standard of the main body of the towns. Improvements include: roads and streets motorable in all seasons; culverting and bridging where required; efficient drainage into a comprehensive drainage system; and electricity and water supply to all lots. Apart from facilitating occupation of the lots in these areas, the objective is urban consolidation – bringing all vacant lots into use to minimise any need for subdivision in unsuitable areas, which is expensive for the occupants and for Town Council services. The identification of these areas is intended to guide future infrastructural works, and should act as the basis for a rolling improvement programme. Infrastructural Improvement Areas in Santa Elena. There are two areas in Santa Elena identified for prioritised works. The first in the Aguada area, covering a GOB and a private subdivision, both of which are in the early stages of development. As this area lies immediately west of the block of short-term ‘mixed-use’ town expansion, improvements will assist in that expansion. The second area lies immediately south of the Hillview area. The land here has been subdivided, yet is hilly and there appears to be little or no building work. Upgrading this area will bring it in line with neighbouring Hillview. Infrastructural Improvement in San Ignacio. The four sites in San Ignacio are firstly the Boiton area, which has been subdivided yet has seen little occupation. The site lies south of Figueroa Street

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and east of Kontiki, and bringing this area into effective occupation will largely consolidate the urban framework south of Cahal Pech. The site is also accessed by Martin Galvez Street. The second site is the remainder of the Shawville subdivision, which has not been occupied. Constellation Boulevard passes through it. Third is a private subdivision north of the Bullet Tree Road and immediately east of the new hospital. Lots have been laid out, but no building has commenced. Lastly, south of the Bullet Tree Road and opposite the hospital is another private subdivision that has not been brought into use. Upgrading these last two areas will amalgamate the various subdivisions in this west part of town into a comprehensive urban quarter. 3.4.3 Commercial Development Areas Two Commercial Development Areas are proposed at well-serviced locations. One in Santa Elena at the junction of the new by-pass and the Highway, with the other in San Ignacio at the junction of the Kontiki road and the Highway. In both these strategic areas, large scale commercial enterprises (supermarkets, warehouses, etc) are proposed, with the objective of encouraging smaller scale, tourism-friendly enterprises downtown (in both San Ignacio and Santa Elena). 3.4.4 Downtown Improvement Areas San Ignacio. The historic center of San Ignacio – the area centered on Burns Avenue, with Joseph Andrews Drive on the west, Benque Viejo Road on the south, and the Macal River on the east. Within this area lie the pedestrianised Burns Avenue, the Welcome Center, the market, Police Station, and most of the town’s small restaurants, bars and tourist facilities, and several buildings of architectural interest. While the area has experienced some inappropriate development over the years, parts have recently been greatly improved, and it has the potential to act both as a revitalized heart of the town and as a boost to the town’s tourism attraction. The area, however, is complex – having multiple land uses, ownership and traffic issues – and a comprehensive approach will be required to ensure all relevant matters are addressed in effective relation to each other. Consequently, a master plan will be required for improvement of the downtown area. Matters that should be focused on include:  Encourage small-scale residential and retail uses to boost a vibrant downtown;  The preservation of historic architecture;  Incentives to encourage property owners to contribute to the area’s beautification;  Drafting of design guidelines to guide the construction of new buildings, the maintenance of historic buildings and appropriate building densities;  Guidance and control of the land uses, to avoid non-compatible uses;  Beautification projects to upgrade the parks, gardens and the river front;

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 Explore the possibility with the Local Building Authority of higher density land uses (smaller plot sizes, no setbacks, and party walls) in suitable areas;  Improvement of traffic flows and parking in the whole of the area, and the Norman Broaster Stadium particularly;  Press for the conveyancing of the old hospital site to the Town Council, possibly as the site of a new town hall, or other civic uses;  Assess ways to improve connections between the downtown areas of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, possibly through themed walkways. Santa Elena. At present, Santa Elena has no downtown area like Burns Avenue in San Ignacio. Though retail and other commercial uses extend all along the George Price (Western) Highway, it is the western part of the Highway and George Price Avenue form the ‘town center’. The MDP proposes that more small scale retail, recreational and restaurant uses are encouraged in this area to create more of a balance with those in San Ignacio. The redirection of through traffic along the bypass will allow street-side improvements and beautification along the remainder of the Highway to the Hawksworth Bridge. It is also proposed that the current ‘wooden bridge’ which carries westbound traffic across the Macal is, after the completion of the by-pass, retained as a pedestrian crossing to encourage greater connection between the two towns. 3.4.5 Relocated Bus Terminal The need for a new site for a new and efficient bus terminal has been identified, particularly as the current site is considered as better used as a part of the downtown improvement area. The proposed ‘commercial development area’ in Santa Elena, at the junction of the Highway and the new by-pass. A more detailed assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of either site is required to ensure sufficient acreage, effective proximity to the highway, the avoidance of negative impacts on surrounding uses, and ease of public access. 3.4.6 New Santa Elena Administrative Site The current Ministry of Works yard at the junction of the Highway and the Cristo Rey Road is proposed as the site of a municipal administration centre for Santa Elena, allowing easier local access and creating improved local civic services and public recognition. 3.5 Land Use Proposals not indicated on a map

3.5.1 Design Guidelines A set of comprehensive architectural design guidelines are required to guide the construction of new buildings, the maintenance of historic buildings, and appropriate building densities. To facilitate implementation, these guidelines should complement GOB guidelines where they exist, such as Central Building Authority (CBA) and Land Utilisation Authority (LUA) requirements. Illustration of appropriate building forms and styles would expedite the guideline’s use. 3.5.2 Building Improvement Incentives for Property Owners The use of fiscal or licensing incentives to encourage property owners to improve the condition of their buildings and lots is proposed. Examples of the use of such incentives in other municipalities,

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whether in Belize or internationally, will be examined to gauge their suitability and implementability. 3.6 General Infrastructure Improvement

3.6.1 Drainage The drainage system in the urbanized parts of both towns is generally adequate for normal weather conditions. However, road improvement and construction should integrate a sustainable network of drains and culverts to ensure this level of service is maintained and improved to meet exceptional weather conditions. Construction in the Savannah area of San Ignacio should either avoid the land which is occasionally flooded by river surge, or be built to withstand it. However, as pointed out above, small creeks in new or proposed subdivisions must be effectively connected to the existing drainage system. 3.6.2 LiDER The need for greater information on detailed topography has been identified by most, if not all, municipalities, as a means to plan comprehensive drainage schemes. The optimal means identified is the use of LiDER technology, which supplies detailed information on the topography, indicating changes in relief to centimetre specificity, enabling in-depth assessment of the land and its drainage patterns. A particular recommendation of this MDP is the need to prepare a proposal to commission a comprehensive LiDER survey of all the municipalities in Belize.

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