On a motion made by Deputy Warden Gary Cochrane, far left, West Hants councillors voted 6-3 in favour of severing ties with the Windsor Fire Department.
West Hants' former fire services co-ordinator may soon be back in business with the municipality.
At council's most recent meeting, Coun. Randy Matheson lobbied to create a new job to support the municipality in its efforts to part ways with the Windsor Fire Department.
After telling council he would vote in favour of ending the long-standing relationship with the WFD, Matheson said they would need to hire someone as soon as possible to aid in the transition.
“I think that we have to support the motion and we should make a motion that Mr. Swinamer be hired back on and... get to the business at hand,” he said.
Matheson was referring to Wayne Swinamer, a former Windsor firefighter who was hired by the municipality in 2012 as the municipality's fire services co-ordinator. Four candidates were interviewed for the role, with CAO Cheryl Chislett noting in February 2012 that Swinamer was the successful candidate.
Once hired, Swinamer was instructed to prepare a report to examine the costs associated with building their own fire station to service the area covered by the WFD.
The study was first presented in January 2013. The initial versions of the report suggested the municipality would see significant cost savings if they created their own fire department, though the exact figure fluctuated. It was in this report that construction of a fire station in Garlands Crossing was proposed, as well as future consideration be given for constructing a substation in Falmouth.
Swinamer finished his contracted position, which had been previously extended from one year, in the fall of 2013.
At the most recent council meeting of May 13, Matheson first made a motion to have the warden “take whatever steps are necessary to inform the public as to why council has chosen to create a new fire service.” This would include hiring a publicist, taking out advertisements and writing letters to the editor. That motion passed with three councillors voting nay. He then lobbied to have Swinamer hired back on.
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“I'll make a motion that we hire Wayne Swinamer to supervise the creation of a new fire service,” Matheson said, to which several councillors objected, noting only the CAO can recommend to council that they hire a specific person — and only after a competition for the job is held.
Matheson suggested the fire services co-ordinator role be immediately budgeted for and that the CAO begin the search for a qualified candidate.
By budgeting for the position, Matheson said it makes it “a fait accompli — that it will be in the budget because you can't do without it.”
Coun. Victor Swinamer was opposed to the possible re-hiring of Wayne Swinamer.
“You can't have internal people do a study. You'd never, ever get an accurate report,” he said. “You need to have the report done by people that have no stake in the outcome of the study... You can't use people connected to the process.”
While some questions and concerns were raised about the new position, including whether it was really necessary to create the job, the motion passed, with the same three councillors (Mike Campbell, Jennifer Daniels, and Victor Swinamer) voting against.