The light at the end of the tunnel suggesting the Municipality of West Hants may consider reentering into negotiations with the Windsor Fire Department is looking a bit dimmer.
On Aug. 13, West Hants’ council approved a motion stating, “that the municipality request a special meeting with the Town of Windsor (councillors and CAOs only) for the sole purpose of discussing the future of the fire services in the Windsor Fire Department coverage area.”
The motion left many people believing there was a chance the Municipality of West Hants may decide against parting ways with the Windsor Fire Department.
However, a letter Richard Dauphinee, the warden for the Municipality of West Hants, sent Town of Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley a week after the motion, stressed that the special meeting would not be a means through which fire service negotiations would resume.
“The purpose of this meeting would not be to enter into negotiations, but a forum to talk openly about the impact on the town if the municipality were (to) proceed with its own fire service for the specific coverage area and to discuss possible options for the future of a joint fire service for the residents of Windsor and West Hants,” the letter reads.
“I’m getting mixed messages,” said Beazley, in discussing the letter at a Windsor committee of the whole meeting Sept. 10.
Beazley said he spoke to some councillors in West Hants who supported the Aug. 13 motion feeling the special meeting might lead to negotiations reopening down the road. But, he said the warden’s letter has left him feeling the town needs more clarity about what will be discussed at the meeting.
CAO Louis Coutinho recommended the mayor respond to the warden’s letter to articulate council’s position on the matter.
Coun. Scott Geddes stressed that he believes the Windsor Fire Department should be involved in the meeting as the town’s fire services provider.
“I really don’t understand why we would enter into any discussion about fire service without our fire service,” he said.
- Read more special articles:
- Unsigned fire contract ignites concerns
- Fire services report ready
- Fire services report a hot topic
- Council reviews fire services report
Deputy Mayor Laurie Murley said the initial motion from West Hants led her to believe the discussion would be headed in a different direction.
“It looks like they want to discuss their own fire service and how Windsor might fit into it,” she offered.
If West Hants severs ties with the Windsor Fire Department, she said town council and the Windsor Fire Department will have to focus on how that impacts Windsor.
“It’s commendable that they have concern for us but, of course, that is something that we would discuss with our partner, the fire services, as to how we would move forward.”
Coutinho noted that the letter was penned in response to the Town of Windsor’s request for clarity regarding the topics to be discussed at the meeting.
Coun. Dave Seeley said he feels the letter from the warden tells a different story than the motion passed by West Hants’ council.
“It appeared they were sending the message to the public that they were going to meet with us to have discussions… in relation to how we can work together.”
Separating, he said, is “not in the spirit of co-operation.”
Beazley said the town is prepared in the event the municipality decides against partnering on fire services in the future.
“If they are truly intent on going forward with their own fire services we have a motion which we have passed that says we need to look at rightsizing the fire department,” he noted.
The mayor said it would be ideal if the Cyril Hare report commissioned by the town and municipality five years ago, or expert opinions from a new study, dictated how changes would be made to the existing fire service model.
“There’s been no expert information drawn out to even have a basis of logical discussion on fire services or what is needed for the region,” he said.
Council agreed to respond to the warden’s letter and request further clarification.