West Hants council agrees to mediation to settle fire services dispute

Carole Morris-Underhill
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UPDATED May 23 at 11 a.m.

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.

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.”

 

Organizations: West Hants council, Windsor Fire Department

Geographic location: Hants, West Hants, Hants County Nova Scotia Windsor

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Recent comments

  • Citizen
    May 28, 2014 - 00:35

    West Hants has already been given access to the numbers. The numbers that really count are the ones that show what west hants currently pays for service compared to other similar sized areas. So far, west hants has refused to show the public anything as far as hard numbers. Everything is in camera, behind closed doors, and they expect us to just take their word for it. I don't accept that for a minute. If they have such a strong case, then show the public the numbers, end of story. This whole idea of a cost breakdown is great, I would have loved to see one before west hants went out and bought that land for over twice it's accessed value. I wonder what else they spend our money on without doing a proper appraisal? How long does a person have to be in office before they feel that they can ask the public to give the funding before they put forth a business plan ? Way too long IMHO. The sad thing is that in 5 years most of these councillors will be retired, and the next generation will be stuck footing the bill for this.

    • John
      June 03, 2014 - 07:35

      Please express ALL FACTS not part. WFD has been asked for a very very long time to show NUMBERS as you say and they will be paid, but the HAVE NOT and DO NOT. Don't express PART of the picture. This is where the problem begins. We all need the WHOLE picture in all areas. The stations should not be built if it is not feasible and logical.

  • Arthur Cull
    May 27, 2014 - 13:38

    I really hate to see this go this way. I really believe that this is much beyond a financial problem. If this was a financial problem it would've been solved through negotiations four years ago. There a personalities at conflict here and it's unfortunate that those people can't put those issues behind them and move on. Instead those people have tried to remove Windsor fire in whatever ways possible going so far as to neglect the public's interest and safety. Citizens should be aware that there are a few people that are doing their best to push this through solely due to personal conflicts with WFD executive. If only we could get some people to look beyond their personal problems and look out for the better good of West Hants. We have to work together for this area to grow otherwise a wedge will be put between the areas and will take years to recover from it. This hurts more than just the executive of Windsor Fire, members like myself are hurt that council is going this way. Proud Windsor Firefighter.

  • RA
    May 26, 2014 - 18:45

    I would like to thank those who have supported my right to have an opinion without being chastised. I really find it hard to believe that so many people are in support of just paying the WFD what they want without any questions asked. The WFD is asking for a 41% increase in over five years, that’s astronomical! I would be very disappointed in my Council if they didn’t question this increase. If all of the people supporting the WFD increases without questioning it were given the same increase in their taxes, I’m sure they would say nothing and just accept the increase. To quell a lot of people’s concerns on whether or not I have ever been affiliated to either the WFD or West Hants Council, the answer is no. I’m just a citizen with an opinion.

    • Oh joy
      May 27, 2014 - 06:06

      RANGE take a look at the minutes of may 14, 200130. Richard Dauphinee said in that meeting that this is not a financial issue. Our councillors at being dishonest. End of story really. Why else would they hide behind these in camera meetings?

    • John
      June 03, 2014 - 07:39

      We are all entitled to our comments. We all don't have time to go and ready years of reports, we have jobs. But we all would like the facts presented and allow each to make our own thoughts and not be bullied into making yours only.

  • Jonathan Swinamer
    May 25, 2014 - 10:10

    soooo. Let's take months to reach a decision then let's turn around and motion to put on hold, then let's spend 5 grand that would pay for the library or even make Sam Slick days something of what it used to be ( yes I said Sam slick and I ment it) I would take this oppertunity to say : Victor, Mike and Jennifer are very awesome people and I love talking to them cause they got sense.... The rest however throw them the hell out, the province is losing jobs, people, and businesses. It's times like these when the road is bumby ya stop trying to reinvent the wheel and just pave the road. I show these articles to people who are from other provinces- do you know how much of a farce this looks to the outside world? And another thing!

  • John
    May 24, 2014 - 13:43

    Time to pay up! Let's settle the bill then discuss the future. Everybody wants everything and then expects Windsor to foot the bill. Then they shop in New Minas. Geez!

    • John
      May 26, 2014 - 08:10

      Windsor foot the bill?????? They want West Hants to pay for the Library (that was donated and financials were incorrect), fire, memorial building. Shop in New Minis?? Well yes, there is no place to shop, little shop here, drive around town to a little shop there that's if you know where it is. How about a structured area with options and prices to match. Funny how everyone wants to complain but they are not buying or building their home in Windsor. No, let’s build in Falmouth where it is close enough but I don't have to pay the high taxes. RA, is allowed to have an option the same as anyone else on here. Just because you for in favor of the WFD doesn't mean you can't express it. Hindering GROWTH????? You need facilities that cant accommodate growth, Windsor can't take care of what they have now. All of the citizens expressing themself?? You see some on here but not all are feeling the same. Just because it isn't in writing here. OH Joy, you talk about RA being foolish, Your last comment isn't right?

  • Oh Joy
    May 24, 2014 - 11:37

    All in all, this could be a positive step for West Hants and the area in general.Everyone else in the province is making efforts to work together and for some reason West Hants and Windsor can't get along enough to improve our community. RA, you've done nothing other than make efforts to insult or downgrade Windsor Fire. West Hants has said multiple times that this is not an issue with the service provided which you have time and time again made reference to the fact that your non-existent station would have better service which it would not. Splitting up the volunteers would make response times for Windsor AND West Hants much worse than it currently is with WFD. WFD has been using a combination of all of the area's firefighters have proven year after year that response times are very quick and can guarantee third and fourth trucks in a timely manner. Nobody works in this area any more so we need a large pool of volunteers to guarantee a week day (day ) response. People like you are hindering the area of growth. Together Windsor and West Hants could be something fantastic. If we keep pushing forward with this ridiculous idea we will tear apart one of the few things we have that works well. Seeing all the citizens weighing in on this subject shows me that there is hope for the area and that if we as the citizens do want to work together. Let's hope some day we can get rid of the personal problems/grudges and see this area grow for once. PS - I want an itemized list of expenses caused by West Hants before I pay my taxes this year. I wonder if the burial will be shown?

    • John
      June 03, 2014 - 07:43

      RA is no different than the supporter and ex fire staff (expressed in their comments) to Overly support the WFD. Let's be fair to all, there are two sides and a midde is where the truth would be. Lets not talk about WFD or WH, how about what is best for the WHOLE area on a go forward basis with a growing areaing and should be have the facilities to take care of the growth. Think a bigger picture than right now or what has been for the past. Move on.

  • RA
    May 23, 2014 - 17:41

    West Hants is losing valuable building time on the new stations. I would like the council to stay their course. West Hants is about progression. A station better equipped to handle problems that a municipality might occur would be better for all of us, not to mention at a reduced cost compared to what we pay Windsor.

    • Citizen
      May 23, 2014 - 20:35

      If is indeed a reduced cost compared to what WH was paying previously, then WH Council should show us the numbers instead of all those closed door ( in camera ) meetings. Given that WH council purchased the land for one of the proposed stations at more than twice it's accessed value according to some reports, their word alone isn't enough. This is OUR money, and we deserve to see on paper what the plan will be and the cost will be. I've been following this for the last few years, and I've seen nothing other than speculation and conjecture.

    • HA
      May 24, 2014 - 08:37

      Blah blah blah blah I have a personal issue with WFD blah blah blah blah I want my own station because I'm selfish blah blah blah blah The new west hants department can do a way better job then WFD blah blah blah.. *What I read every time there's a comment from RA.*

    • Ryan
      May 24, 2014 - 10:37

      How can you prove a Dept (Station) that doesn't even exist will be better equipped to handle emergencies than a well established organization that's been at it for years?

    • John
      May 26, 2014 - 08:17

      Citizen & HA: agreed however, West Hants deserves to see the numbers asked for numerous time from WFD also. I find this is taking sides too easily, let's see what is financial better for West Hants. Do we want to grow, do we want to allow new development? Well maybe we need a larger fire service than we have currently. We need to see the WHOLE picture and see if it makes sense. We are ALL entitled to have our view on things and don't service to be told not to have it the same as you have yours.

  • roger beaton
    May 23, 2014 - 15:47

    I hope the WFD is smart enough to get the money that WH owes them before they start to talk about any future plans. WH is not to be trusted. I hope the WFD sticks with there plans.

  • Leah Rissesco
    May 23, 2014 - 15:12

    This is a very good start. However it is by no means over. The ownis is still on residents to make sure that this process remains in the best interest of public safety and it reflects what the CITIZENS actually want. We see what leaving it in the burocrats hands have gotten us. Congratulations to everyone willing to take that giant step forward.

  • Bob DeMont
    May 23, 2014 - 11:46

    A great big thank you to all who persevered to make this mediation process come about. Without the tireless dedication of many, this would not have become a reality. In particular I would like to recognize our MLA Chuck Porter, Chief Scott Burgess, and West Hants Council. But most of all I would like to congratulate the citizens of West Hants and Windsor for their ongoing dedication to have this issue resolved. Make no mistake, there is still along way to go before this issue is resolved. However I feel confident that a proper outcome will be achieved. As a retired firefighter at the WFD meeting Wednesday night, I know the decision to curtail service was not taken lightly and as a very last resort. This decision would not only jeopardize county residents but also the property and lives of those WFD members that live in the county. Keep up the good work and continue to remain focused on the task ahead.