Candidate Responses – Janice Falzon

Development

1. What is your stance on the Jerma proposal as it currently stands?
Should the LC be asked to vote on this in the future, how would you vote if the residential apartments remain part of the proposal?


For sure, I agree that the derelict building standing there for these past 10 years should be removed.

Regarding the Jerma proposal there are a number of subjective perceptions with regards to the development in question. Marsascala is not highlighted as a strategic location for high-rise buildings according the SMLP (South Malta Local Plan) and this is because it is placed as a locality for the holiday industry rather than major tourist accommodation.

I think one has to level out the options, way back other proposals were brought forward; some of them included development on the footprint occupied by the derelict hotel, circa 15,000sqm, to be again built keeping medium-high rise (10 storeys or less) but fewer open public spaces, or the newly proposed development of circa 7,000sqm footprint, rising 13 to 15 storeys with a larger area for public open spaces.

The Development Brief for the Jerma Palace, states that;

“The site currently occupied by the Jerma Palace Hotel site should be mainly used for tourist accommodation in view of the strategic location of the site for such purposes. However, a comprehensive development of the site, including residential and commercial uses, may be considered provided this forms part of a Development Brief for the area.”

If anything as a community, we should opt for the best sustainable project as to not witness another ruin in Marsaskala while also balancing open spaces in line with the development. Therefore, mixed development is a wiser option for a sustainable hotel as long as it does not compromise the footprint and height. Nonetheless, opting for a project that would provide for the local heritage in the vicinity i.e. St. Thomas Tower.

2. What are your thoughts on the take-up of public land to build the Żonqor branch of the AUM? If you had to vote again in the future, would you be in favour of, or against the irreversible destruction of that area of Żonqor?

When it comes to the AUM the residents complaints and objections were, at a certain point, heard and thus the area earmarked for development was reduced by 2/3 and another 40,000m2 were added to the Inwadar National Park, of which 30,000m2 were within development zone, an area previously earmarked for development and is now declared ODZ. This process is still at an early stage. Thus, one as to see how things will develop in the near future. But personally I do not agree with the development.


3. What are your thoughts about excessive development in general in Marsaskala? Our infrastructure is struggling to cope – how will you ensure that Marsaskala remains a residential village for families, as opposed to becoming another Sliema?

My vision is that in our locality, Marsaskala, we create an element of balance to the benefit of residents and entrepreneurs. Marsaskala has gone through a huge change, whereby the economy grew, construction exploded and there was a drastic raise in population. However, we must not forget our environment, and the virgin land we still have. An example of what I have in mind is Urban Greening; for instance the Local Council can insist that when there is an application for a development project of a certain size, developers need to be obliged to include green infrastructure for example Green walls and green roofs in their project. Thus, this way we are creating a balance in development zones and this would benefit the community and the entrepreneur through improved Energy Performance.

4. What is your opinion on the preservation and creation of public open spaces in Marsaskala? What do you think about the building of new LC premises in Ġnien Sant’ Anna in the face of residents’ opposition?

I was not keen on the land chosen for the Local Council Offices i.e. Gnien Sant’Anna, in my opinion it would have been more ideal to restore to glory one of our oldest buildings. Concerning preservation of open spaces, I am adamant to give importance and raise awareness on the Inwadar National Park, to make it more accessible and visited by our families and tourists. This way people and residents would appreciate the beauty of its nature.

I will also work towards identifying land, which is to no use to be transformed into a Community Garden.

I also want to boost the conservation of our fortifications, which need to be maintained and embellished more often in order to be appreciated by the public. This improvement should be strengthened by organizing activities to charm residents and tourists such as fire shows on the Sea, boat racing and ġostra.

5. What is your stance on the construction of an ODZ petrol station just opposite the Family Park?

It would have been more appropriate for the application for a petrol station to be built within a development zone, if truly needed, and not use virgin land, whilst also choosing a location further away from housing estates.

6. What is your vision for the Sant’Antnin recycling plant once it is phased out? What would you wish to have instead of it?

Ideally it would be nice to be extended with the family park and we can endeavour to further implement more Animal Friendly measures such as (a) A larger and more equipped Dog Park for the amount of dogs that are part of families in Marsascala; (B) A Dog Day Care equipped to residents advantage; (C) Cat shelters an initiative that has been grasped by many local councils around Malta including Pieta, San Gwann, Ta’ Qali, Pembroke, Zabbar and more; (D) Cat Café (E) More projects of Afforestation.

On the 20th April 2019 The Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Welfare has set up a €120,000 fund with the aim of promoting initiatives and projects in favour of stray animals including the setting up of Dog Parks and Cat Cafes in the various localities around Malta and Gozo.

7. Noise disturbance is an increasingly problematic issue. Would you consider fining contractors who disobey basic rules like working outside permitted hours?

Laws are there to be enforced. The scope of the Local Council is to see that the community prospers and improve the quality of life. This will not be achieved without the interest being expressed by the business community. However, this cannot be done at the expense of the residents.

8. How will your service as a councillor improve the health of residents?

As maybe you are aware I have already involved the local council in a greening the community scheme. Through this scheme we are promoting more trees to be planted, greener spaces, potted shrubs and urban greening in general. I work at the Ministry for the Environment and I am a mother so obviously I will commit myself to safeguard our environment and promote clean ups and raise awareness on electric cars and the promotion of bicycle lanes.

9. Parking is increasingly a problem, yet measures to promote active means of transport such as cycling have thus far been actively discouraged (e.g. removal of the cycle lane along Triq is-Salini). Will you actively encourage cycling and walking in Marsaskala? How?

It comes naturally to want to walk if you have a pleasant Environment around you and more areas that are pedestrian. Less usage of our cars leads to better air quality and less hassle on trying to find a suitable parking.

Environment and litter

1. Do you think there is a problem with rubbish and dog litter in Marsaskala? What do you plan to do about it?

Monitoring through surveillance cameras and through enforcement. Installing more dog litter bins and study the possibility of better ways to enhance the waste management system in Marsaskala, maybe we can also consider allocating a waste disposal site for those residents who cannot adhere to the schedule provided due to shift work commitments.

The local council should commit to a clean up schedule involving all local voluntary and non-voluntary organisations to raise more awareness on littering and waste. These can also be accompanied by small workshops to promote more awareness. Some of the organisations that come to mind are; Marsaskala Girl Guides, St. Anne Band Club, Ghaqda Armar tal-Festa Sant’Anna, Youths Marsaskala, PLYG M’Skala, Marsaskala F.C., Marsaskala Water Polo and more.

Ultimately, waste and littering does not come alone in our community but it is solely the responsibility of our civilians to be more aware and educated in order for better systems to work.

2. Will you be willing to speak to restaurant owners and require a bin outside their premises?

I am aware that some restaurant owners have already reached out to have some sort of adequate recycling method/bins that works for their amounts and type of waste. Thus, we have to keep in mind that having large skips/bins in front of restaurants might be an eyesore for tourists and residents, notwithstanding the smell.

I will commit myself to find a suitable solution to this and even encourage developers to include a garbage room to reduce the rubbish bins lying on the pavements and cats eating through the bags leading to residue and filth being left in front of our doors and this also in view of Chapter 549 – Environment Protection Act, L.N. 296 of 2018 clearly states; “Owner or occupier of commercial premises to provide bins in public place.”

9. Government or the Local Council, according to jurisdiction, may require, in writing, the owner, contractor, legal representative, occupier or licence holder of a commercial establishments to provide, at the expense of the owner, legal representative, occupier or licence holder and within such period as may be specified in the notice, for bins or other convenient receptacles, which shall conform to such specifications as Government may require, to be placed in appropriate locations within the premises of the commercial establishment, or on the street or in a public place in the vicinity of the premises, for the deposit of refuse and litter: Provided that the Minister shall, from time to time, and after consultation with representatives of the commercial sector, issue a list of selected categories of commercial establishments which may be required to place such bins or receptacles on the street or in a public place.”.

3. What effective enforcement strategies would you put in place for those who do not follow rules?

There is already a task force in place regulated by ERA and LESA, which have the leeway to fine persons, who do not follow waste management schedules, which I will collaborate with on hotspots.

Citizen Involvement

1. Currently, groups of residents are only allowed to speak at local council meetings once a year. Will you consider the possibility of engaging more publicly with groups of citizens during local council meetings once in office? How would you do this?

It is my aspiration to have a Council, which is close to the residents and for the residents. It is important that the Local Council maintain contact with residents to hear complaints and suggestions. I will make it a priority to make myself available in every activity organized by the Community’s organizations and consider a quarterly review rather than once a year. Thus, I am more interested in widening the community participation relatively then they just speak.  

2. Will you make an effort to regularly notify citizens of important council matters via the (thus far) rarely updated website, official FaceBook page, and any other means?
 
Yes. Should I be a part of the council it means the residents have granted me with their trust, thus I strongly believe that our followers and residents have a right to know what is being debated for their community. So I will make the effort and I will also keep updating my personal page in order to be hands on with who wishes to contact me directly. I would also suggest a platform or application where regular updates of things concerning the community would be updated.

Generic

1. Give me one good reason why you deserve the vote and the trust of the residents of Marsaskala.

I was born and raised in Marsaskala and it has been my hometown for the past 29 years. I am particularly in love with our bay, St Thomas Bay and thus want the best for our locality. I want my daughter to have a wonderful childhood here like I myself had and want to prosper her in loving the Environment and the outdoors and not fixated to electronic devices and the only way I can safeguard this for her is to be in a position to vote for what is best for Marsaskala.

2. If you were granted three personal wishes for Marsaskala – no limits, everything is possible. What would those wishes be? What is your vision for Marsaskala?

o Hot Air Balloons (similar to Cappadocia, Turkey) – Marsaskala is a popular tourist destination, as it has many areas with unique historic features, caves, sea and valleys one can see.

o Horse Riding around the Munxar coast

o An adequate, fully controlled, equipped, energy efficient and self-sustainable Camping Site, thus also promoting ecotourism, with wooden huts with solar panels, which would not be an eyesore for the locality.

3. What result do you want to achieve, if elected for the coming five years for Marsaskala residents?

If the result will get me to be a part of the local council I would like to achieve a greener and better Marsaskala by safeguarding our Environment and promoting ecotourism wherever and whenever it is possible.

4. What can we hold you accountable for?

Community Activism