No Man is an Island
* Note: For visitors reading this article, please consider this a proverbial peek under the village skirt. After all, it’s not like magical places just happen. They are sewn and tended to. The more care, strategy and teamwork that goes into that process, the more magical the place becomes.
Hopes are high following the elections for the Placencia Village Council 2022-2025 held Sunday May 22, 2022 at St. John’s Memorial Primary School. We now have a dynamic mix of hard-working, business-minded, community-oriented individuals that will work together alongside Area Representative Hon. Rodwell Ferguson and the Central Government to lead Placencia in a direction of positivity and growth. The call was one for change and action and the people have spoken.
Placencia Village Chairman: Mr. Warren Garbutt
After Hurricane Iris in 2002, Warren dove into his passion for the sea and relocated to Placencia to pursue a career in tourism. Father of two and married to resident pharmacist Nina Wallen, he is known as a humble and approachable advocate for the village. Having served as councilor for three terms, he knows the position of Chairman requires a lot of time and energy and comes part and parcel with criticism, and he feels up to the task. But no man is an island. With a genuine love for his people and fueled by their confidence, he will take the helm with six Council Members as his crew.
Councilwoman: Tiffany Westby
Owner-Operator of Merl’s Café, experienced councilwoman and mother, Tiffany also happens to be a Member of the Belize Port Authority Board of Directors, a Member of the Placencia Lands and Lots Advisory Committee and a Justice of the Peace. She inherited the land her business sits on from her great-grandmother and intends to ensure the grass-roots people of Placencia are represented and cared for as the cultural backbone of the village.
Councilman: Henry Hamilton
Miami born, having moved to Placencia when he was 7 years old, Henry is partner to local businesswoman and Barefoot Bar Proprietor, Cassie Dial. He is an athlete, a father and known for his good vibes and good intentions. Expect to see him spending time focused on health and wellness for Placencia’s youth.
Councilwoman: Brice DIal
Winner of a National scholarship to study health and yoga in India, Brice’s passion is wellness. As co-owner of Barefoot Beach Bar, she is known in the community as fair in business and fun to work with. Brice is a mother of two whose life and loyalty have been grounded in Belize since she arrived at the age of 9. In addition to hosting by-donation community yoga, you can expect Brice to foster the connection between the council and local businesses.
Councilman: Conrad Villaneueva Jr.
Born and raised in Placencia, this father of three feels as though everyone in Placencia is either a friend or a relative of his. Most comfortable behind the scenes, Conrad intends to be the workforce behind the projects the PVC identifies as paramount.
Councilman: Leomar Leslie
A self-professed realist, this native of the village is known for donning the number 14 as a Placencia Assassin in Belize’s Premier League and for speaking his mind. Whether people agree with him or not, the consensus is, his love for the village is undeniable.
Councilman: Sheldon Lopez
Famous for his lobster sausage and grilling skills, especially when it’s fundraising time, this Owner and Proprietor of Big Beck’s Harbor View Bar & Grill always steps up when he hears the call. Expect to see Sheldon raising awareness and funds in support of village initiatives.
Rumor has it, the elected group started meeting before even being sworn in, such is their dedication. They also seem unified on the causes that need their attention: Sargassum, Sanitation, Health Care, Public Access, Youth Initiatives and Funding are the order of the day. In no particular order and in a brief summary of the issues at hand:
The issue: Sargassum
The unsightly and unsavory brown seaweed with berrylike air bladders that floats onto our beaches in large masses.
PVC Plan: Tackle it head on!
Coordinate the day-to-day cleanup efforts, which are expensive and laborious.
Tap into organized groups with access to finance and technical expertise, like the National Sargassum Task Force, represented by a cross section of government departments such as Tourism, Fisheries, Health and Environment along with private businesses.
Focus on the longer term as it relates to countering the on-going and serious effects of climate change on the village.
How to Help: Grab a rake or donate to the cleanup effort.
The Issue: Sanitation
As a premier tourist destination, sanitation and garbage collection are a top priority to keep the village clean and beautiful for everyone to enjoy.
PVC Plan: Collection, collection, collection
Strengthen the Sanitation Department.
Place more bins in strategic places.
Support the primary school in keeping their grounds clean, ensuring they see the council and community being active in their efforts.
How to Help: Pay your collection fees and put garbage in its proper place.
The Issue: Roads
Especially our back Roads. The main road too. We need to relieve congestion and increase safety.
PVC Plan: Manage Parking and Traffic Flow
Connect the sidewalk up to Bay Park
Implement traffic enforcement and signage in collaboration with the Department of Transport.
How to Help: Take the sidewalk when you can, be conscientious and follow the rules.
The Issue: Healthcare
Proper, reliable healthcare for residents and visitors. Improved facilities, reliable staff, emergency response plans, routine check-up and basic life saving equipment.
PVC Plan: Give it immediate attention.
While the Ministry of Health is ultimately responsible, the council is lobbying businesses to support buying needed equipment.
Start a wave of physical, mental and spiritual health and wellness by offering free weekly activities to community members of all ages.
How to Help: Sign up, donate and participate. A healthier community is a happier community.
The Issue: Youths
They are our future and it’s our duty to teach them a sense of pride in themselves, their community and the planet. Single mothers need support, children need a quality education, they need after-school programs, healthy activities and good examples.
PVC Plan: Revive sports!
Create committees, led by a councilor, that will arrange tournaments, showcase talent and encourage health and education.
Fundraise while offering opportunities to socialize outside the bar. Placencia has a long history of victory on the football field, the basketball court and beach volleyball court, and one of the best fan bases in Belize.
How to Help: Participate! Share your skills, give your time, buy the ticket, wave a sign from the stands.
The Issue: Funding
The main revenue source of any Belizean village is fundraising. The PVC does not currently benefit from trade licenses or property taxes. And while we commend the government for reviewing the trade license bill in their recent house meeting, we suspect the onus will remain on villagers to raise funding for even basic social requirements, such as health care and infrastructure maintenance.
PVC Plan: Events and Festivals!
Draw in tourism and offer opportunities to sell food, crafts, jewelry and art, all while bringing a much needed revenue stream to the village.
Strengthen relationships with the BTIA, the Tour Guide Association, the Rotary Club, and the Placencia Police and Fire Departments.
Support the small business community and count on them for financial assistance in a way that demonstrates meaningful and mutual progress.
How to Help: Show up and support the cause! Buy the raffle tickets, eat the bbq and purchase the art.
While mandated to hold quarterly meetings, this new PVC intends to meet weekly, host more community meetings and be more active on Facebook as their platform for interaction. The PVC building is located next to the community center and the door is always open. They are committed to sharing information, hearing your concerns and working with you in building a stronger community. They encourage all individuals to be open to new ideas, tap into their skills and passions, and be willing to share them with the village.
“If, in ten years from now”, says the new Chairman, “Placencians are comfortable in their homes, with thriving businesses, giving back to their community as a part of the sustainable development of the village, that is success”.
Your Village Council can be reached at: email@example.com or 501-523-3396