Covering a total area of 89km2, the municipality of Lagoa is a truly international community made up of some 5,000 foreign residents, 25 percent of the total population. The needs of this community are being met by Mayor Luis Encarnação whose main goals are education, sustainability and cleanliness of spaces, and importantly, quality of life.

In an interview with The Portugal News, Luís Encarnação said that when he began his presidency of the council, on 30 June 2019 (after the mayor at the time Francisco Martins, resigned for health reasons), his objective was to continue the projects that he had started in 2013 and to maintain his commitment to the local people of Lagoa, the ‘lagoenses’.

The mayor made it clear that when he speaks of ‘lagoenses’ this also includes the foreign community that lives in the council, which represents 25 percent of the total population that resides in Lagoa, demonstrating that Lagoa is one of the favourite destinations for the foreign community, with 5,000 residents in an area of only 89km2.

“Lagoa is a lovely place that attracts non-Portuguese citizens who choose to take up residence here”, said the mayor. The reason behind these choices he believes is down to “the strong commitment to urban cleanliness, the preservation of our gardens and urban renewal are some of the reasons that lead this population to choose Lagoa. Also the strong cultural offering attracts people to the city with the concert halls of the area receiving a clear influx of the foreign community”.

Projects to ensure quality of life
Guarantees of green spaces for people to be able to walk with their children, go jogging, walking, and do some exercise in order to achieve an active lifestyle is one of the priorities of the council. This priority is being demonstrated at the start of next year with the construction of two urban parks in the council. One close to the Fatacil – Lagoa Exhibition and Concert Park - and another one in Parchal behind Pavilhão Arade, Luis Encarnação told The Portugal News.

According to the mayor, “the urban park will have lots of vegetation and green spaces that allow families to visit a space that children can enjoy. There will also be an artificial lake, and a pedestrian area prepared for jogging and walks”. Not forgetting the elderly, Luís Encarnação announced that the park will also have a dedicated area for those over 65 years old.

“We hope to move forward with this project at the beginning of next year, which will start with the construction of the area that will be located in the urban park in the Fatacil, Lagoa, and represents the first phase of the construction process”, he explained.

In addition to these two projects, the City Council is continuing to work on three other projects: The amplification of the EB23 Lagoa school refectory, “which has been needed for a long time, but now it has become imperative due to the safety measures for children in school spaces”, he said.

Also, the requalification of the village of ‘Vale de Centeanos’, one of the oldest in the council and without any interventions for the past 40 years, is on the cards.

Finally, the requalification of the parking access at Praia da Marinha, to control and prevent the abusive use of parking, is now underway. “We are going to have an area with a maximum capacity for 75 vehicles and three buses,” he said. “In order to improve accessibility and to preserve the sustainability of the beach, which has already been distinguished as one of the most beautiful places in the world”.

Ensuring investment
During these times of Covid-19, some decisions from the council have had to be rethought, but he guarantees that reducing investment is not a solution. “Investment creates quality of life, develops the economy and creates jobs, which is fundamental at a time when unemployment in the city rose 147 percent compared to last year.

“We want to continue confirming that Lagoa is a pleasant and sustainable council, in which it is good to live, work and visit”. The tourism sector, directly and indirectly, represents 95 percent of the economy in Lagoa, according to Luis Encarnação. So he knows exactly the economic dependence that tourism represents but stresses also the importance of looking for investment and the need to diversify the economic sectors in the area, in order to reduce this dependence in the future.