Kings County needs more citizen engagement: Winsor

Kirk Starratt
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"We need to be listening and taking advice from them and responding to their concerns.” - Jim Winsor

Jim Winsor.

County council needs to hear what residents are saying, says Jim Winsor.

“I think that we as a council need to be working with our people and hearing what they’re saying,” the District 11 councillor said. “There’s a lot of concerned citizens who have the good interest of this county at heart and we need to be listening and taking advice from them and responding to their concerns.”

That’s what prompted him to join the Kings Citizens Coalition (KCC). While he points out his view doesn’t represent all of county council, his involvement with the group will include sitting on the KCC’s advisory committee. He “won’t get too heavily involved,” but believes council has to have an ear to what is going on within the group and the coalition needs a link into the council chambers as well, he added.

“I’d like to see, frankly, more councillors get engaged and be saying engagement is important,” Winsor said.

That’s something the KCC would appreciate, said co-chairman Dave Ritcey. The KCC recently sent a letter to the four municipalities within Kings, inviting all elected officials to join. Ritcey said the coalition is “excited and enthusiastic” to have Winsor accept and it would be “fantastic” if other councillors did as well.

Citizen engagement is one component of the vision for the ongoing Kings 2050 regional planning review, Winsor said, adding he wants to “work hand-in-hand” with them.

In light of the recent Kings Partnership Steering Committee decision to proceed with a shared services review but not a full review of municipal governance within Kings, Winsor said there’s an acknowledgement that there are areas where municipalities can do better in terms of service delivery.

Read more about the Kings Citizens Coalition's quest for a governance study here.

Ritcey is concerned that Kings is already at a competitive disadvantage. Municipalities in West Hants are “showing tremendous leadership and moving quickly and definitively” on the issue of governance compared to Kings, he said.

“Our local units are looking at internal options but there is no willingness locally to embrace a full review,” Ritcey said.

He said the Avon region is at a competitive advantage because it is located closer geographically to Halifax. As a businessperson, Ritcey is concerned that Kings is “fragmented” and could be put at a competitive disadvantage compared to a unified Avon region. He said it’s important local government recognizes this as a threat and takes action.

Winsor said Kings County must create an environment promoting economic development and remove encumbrances so that industry can find its own way. Any major investment in the county will benefit the entire municipality, regardless of which community it’s in, he added.

Municipalities must take measures to ensure the long-term sustainability of programs and services, he said. The fact that individual financial positions might not be as bad in Kings County as other municipalities is not a valid reason to maintain the status quo.

 

 

Organizations: Kings Citizens Coalition, Kings Partnership Steering Committee

Geographic location: Kings, West Hants, Halifax

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