Planning professionals meet to register Belize Association of Planners

Members of the planning profession in Belize merged efforts and knowledge today in signing on to the Articles and Memorandum of Association for the Belize Association of Planners (BAP), and registering it as a Non-Governmental Organization making Belize the fourth Caribbean country after Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad to have a registered national planning association. BAP is formed primarily to provide a space and forum for planners to discuss, and build consensus positions on issues and concerns that they consider important to promoting good governance, sustainable development and sustainable human settlements in Belize. Plus news spoke with one of the organizations founding member, Mrs Carolyn Trench-Sandiford. Who tells us about the importance of such an organization.

Mrs Carolyn Trench-Sandiford – Belize Association of Planners:
vlcsnap-2013-04-04-20h30m59s27It was important, I think primarily, because planning is a foundation of life.  As planners we’re visionary.  We think in the long term, but we also have to think in terms of relevance. Planning is forward thinking in terms of developing your country, whether it be nationally, or at the community level, or at the Municipal level, in terms of accommodating your population growth.  Even though as a profession we focus on land, it cannot be divorced from people. And so you must always be planning for the population growth.  And people have needs, and people have aspirations.  So as planners, and within the planning profession, we accommodate those visions and those needs and those aspirations. So it was important for us as planners to come together, to ensure that as a profession we contribute to the growth and development of Belize, but also as planners for us to also analyze our role critically, and to see how best  we can be relevant in terms of responding to the challenges that confront Belize today.

BAP will also promote and ensure high standards of professional competence and conduct in the practice of the profession; with hopes of  promoting research, data collection and analysis and compile statistics, plan and implement programs, projects and activities. Imani Fair-weather Morrison; whose another founding member of BAP spoke more on these aspects.

Imani Fair-weather Morrison – Belize Association of Planners:
We want to be sure that we are bringing the skills that we have in a consorted effort, in a unified effort. We want to ensure that plans for development in the country are based on the contributions that we can bring to the table.

Jesse Mendoza
So then will you be developing policies, legislation?

Imani Fair-weather Morrison – Belize Association of Planners:
vlcsnap-2013-04-04-20h32m20s76It’s a range of things; its either research or in policy realm. It’s very practical as well, if you are actually undertaking planning for communities, whether they be rural, urban or you are planning for resource use or you are thinking through Governance framework for community. There are very many dimensions to planning and it can occur at various levels. So from policies to very practical; it can be related to one sector or it can be many sectors. So it can be just transportation planning. Planning is multidisciplinary ; there are various dimensions and there are various levels and individuals who have come together all have a range of background and skills, but the foundation and the root is for long term thinking and perspective on development.  

The Association also intends to build partnerships with government and non-governmental organizations nationally, regionally and internationally, that have similar objectives. Subrata Basu is an Architect and Planner.

Jesse Mendoza;
Now, while it is good to plan and discuss, where it will affect society is when those things are implemented. How will your planning and findings research affect society tangibly?

Subrata Basu – Architect and Planner;
vlcsnap-2013-04-04-20h18m02s170Our planning is a continuum process. It is not just thinking and putting a plan together. The implementation is very much a part of the planning process, so we have to be very vigilant and be involved throughout the entire process of making sure that we follow through with what we are envisioning for the future.

Jesse Mendoza;
While I know you’re just formed, would you be able to speak on what do you believe that implementation will look like or what would you want that implementation to look like within society?

Subrata Basu – Architect and Planner;
As we think through our issues, we definitely have to think through as to what the outcome is going to be; otherwise, we wouldn’t be doing our job. We have to let people be convinced that we add value to what decisions are being made. So to do that, we have to convince them why it is important to consider planning and what value we add to that at the end of the process.

BAP will be headquartered in Belize City and is being funded by its members until it can access funding. Other Founding members of the Association are: Malikah Cardona, Imani Fairweather-Morrison, Larry Wolfe, Caren Williams, Gina Young, Keisha Rodriguez, Subratu Basu, Anthony Andrews and Barbara Tillett-Abuhadi.

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