After two mediation sessions at the order of the Supreme Court, the Government of Belize and the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA) have reached agreement on a majority of issues to settle their case at the Supreme Court over use and enjoyment of the road reserve running adjacent to the Harmonyville Agricultural Subdivision at Mile 41, George Price Highway.
In matters such as these each side has to make some concessions, and BGYEA made a major one on Friday, but according to their attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd, they do get something back.
The Government plans to assist BGYEA with seeds and technical expertise for development of the reserve portion of land in the Subdivision – about 60 acres of a more than 3,000 acre parcel – for agriculture as well as communal property – schools, parks, and the like, spread out around the community. However there has been no agreement on the building of roads within the community for access to properties. Residents will also be allowed to join several properties to be used as one for the purpose of agriculture.
So while this means an end for the BGYEA-sponsored project to “plant di corn” in the Zone as a means of both economic viability for the community and an environmental guard to keep the area clean, the Government now assumes the task of making the subdivision, consisting of land seized from a foreign investor more than five years ago, work for the benefit of its residents. This includes starting the process of converting the leased properties to full title. Matura-Shepherd tells us why she personally supports the project as a means of self-sustainability for a marginalized people.
Costs are to be determined, likely by Supreme Court Justice Courtney Abel, to whom the case is officially assigned.