The councils serving Windsor, West Hants and Hantsport have identified four key issues that may require a group effort.
All but three of the 21 elected officials serving on the councils, and senior staff representing each municipality, recently participated in an inter-municipal co-operation workshop.
At the Sept. 24 Windsor town council meeting, Mayor Paul Beazley listed water/wastewater management, economic development in the Avon Region, transit and fire services as four focus points the councils identified at the joint workshop.
“It was overwhelmingly supported that all three councils need to work together on these particular four strategic areas now,” the mayor said, in summarizing the workshop.
CAO Louis Coutinho said “respectful discussions” were held on a number of topics, leaving staff with many concepts to explore, including the plausibility of having one water utility for all three municipalities.
Don Beatty, director of public works for the Town of Windsor, noted that the town and county already co-operate through the operations of the Windsor and Three Mile Plains water utilities, and there may be an opportunity for significant cost savings if the utilities in Falmouth and Hantsport could somehow be incorporated in a shared service model.
In terms of transit, Coutinho noted that all three CAOs have met with the acting manager of Kings Transit to discuss the future of the service in the local area, and the subject will continue to be on the agenda at the joint council level.
Beazley said he is pleased with the momentum regarding water utility and transit talks, but stressed that he wants to see matters pertaining to economic development and fire services be treated as priorities as well.
He noted that the formation of the Valley-based Regional Enterprise Network (REN) is a good start, but it is important for the local area to be well represented by another group that solely focuses on economic and community development in Hants County.
Coun. John Bregante said the Avon Region Community Development Association was formed for that purpose.
Coun. Scott Geddes said the support local councils have shown for the Avon Chamber of Commerce initiative that branded the Windsor and West Hants area as Avon – the Land of Plenty is encouraging.
“There was generally a sense of buy in, I thought, from all three councils on the Avon region, Land of Plenty. I think there is a willingness to continue to work with that and to grow with it.”
Coutinho suggested the councils meet to discuss the economic development projects they’d like to see undertaken in the area.
On the fire services front, Beazley said it would be ideal if all three councils agreed to meet, with firefighters present, to discuss what changes, if any, could be made to enhance fire protection services in the region.
“The unfortunate part is if one of the council’s isn’t in agreement then the next step can’t be taken,” he said.