Although contract negotiations between the Windsor Fire Department and Municipality of West Hants have stalled, the local firefighting force continues to provide service and mutual aid to rural residents.
As a result of interest from the media and community members, we have issued a statement summarizing our thoughts regarding our meeting with the West Hants Municipal Council on Feb. 24, 2014.
The Windsor Fire Department Executive is very disappointed with the results of the special committee of the whole meeting held by West Hants on Feb. 24, 2014. Our executive has been working very hard to address the issues raised by the West Hants council. We have addressed as many of the items as we can at this point. We have offered, but not been successful in securing, a meeting with the West Hants staff, and therefore have not been able to find a resolution to this prolonged process.
We need to negotiate a service agreement and move forward so that the fire services being provided to all the citizens of the region can be assured a long term and secure future.
We are treating this issue with the utmost professionalism and priority to ensure resolution to this situation.
We do not discuss personnel issues, salaries, etc. in public, and feel the discussions have gone as far as they can in public meetings. We would like to discuss funding options that are not simply short term, but that provide the opportunity for long term planning.
Through this whole process WFD has abided by the Municipal Government Act (MGA), regulations and any applicable policies. We have been unpaid for nearly a year now based on a motion of the West Hants council that was not ever discussed with our executive, which reduced our ability to plan our services into the future by removing our access to stable funding. Our executive and volunteer firefighters have stated repeatedly that we are there for the citizens and will continue to serve and protect them for as long as we can, but the current situation is putting a significant amount of pressure on our department and is not sustainable.
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We have contacted the Government of Nova Scotia’s Municipal Services to request help and advice resolving the matter. In light of the findings in the Nova Scotia Commission on Building our New Economy’s Now or Never Report (available at OneNS.ca), we want to help be part of the solution in achieving the goals in the report, improving efficiency and effectiveness of regional municipal services.
We respectfully urge West Hants Council to allow their staff and our team to sit down and work towards a mutually beneficial service agreement.
Windsor Fire Department Executive