UPDATED May 23 at 11 a.m.
© Carole Morris-Underhill
More than two dozen people were waiting in West Hants council chambers at 8:40 a.m. May 23 for council’s emergency meeting.
West Hants council has voted unanimously in favour of giving third party mediation a chance.
As a way to grant area residents peace of mind, they also made a motion to put their plans to pursue building a new fire station and parting ways with the Windsor Fire Department on hold.
An emergency council meeting was held this morning, May 23, after the provincial government offered to appoint a mediator to help settle the ongoing dispute between West Hants and the Windsor Fire Department.
In an interview following the meeting, Warden Richard Dauphinee said he was pleased council was behind involving a mediator.
“I received what I recommended and hoped for. This is what the minister needs to move ahead and appoint a mediator and get his terms of reference in place and get this started and I hope this works in a timely manner,” said Dauphinee.
The warden said by having an impartial person examine the issues from both sides, they will hopefully be able to reach “a sensible resolution.”
The morning meeting was originally scheduled to go in camera, meaning the general public would not be privy to what was being discussed. However, when the 9 a.m. meeting was called to order, Dauphinee requested council allow the discussion to take place in the open.
“It’s not a major thing; it’s not earth shattering, but it’s what would have put me in camera,” said Dauphinee at the meeting. He noted the municipality was requested to help pay for mediation.
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The province will pay 50 per cent of the cost, while the Municipality of West Hants and the Town of Windsor were asked to each pay 25 per cent. The maximum West Hants would be required to pay out is $5,000.
Dauphinee noted the town agreed to pay their portion, but requested to not be part of the mediation process as the contractual dispute is between the WFD and West Hants. (The WFD provides separate fire protection service for Windsor and West Hants.)
By approving the province’s offer of mediation, council also approved helping fund the position.
About three dozen people attended the council meeting. Just as the meeting adjourned, a resident asked council to put a motion on the floor that would state council would halt plans to part ways with the WFD.
Council agreed to resume the meeting in order to give residents “comfort” in knowing council would not proceed with plans until the mediation process concluded.
Following the meeting, Dauphinee said he was hopeful the fire services issue could be resolved.
“I hope both sides work together well and we see a good conclusion to this that everybody is happy with, including the residents.”