The latest municipal shenanigans are an embarrassment to the citizens of the Avon Region.
At a joint council meeting March 27, when the councils of Hantsport, Windsor and West Hants were supposed to embrace enhanced municipal co-operation, we witnessed a breakdown of communication, stifled discussion and unbecoming behaviour.
How much longer must this area suffer before all parties can put aside their differences and work together?
The March meeting began on a positive note, with much discussion held regarding the various joint endeavours the municipal units are undertaking. But, that co-operation and positivity was short lived.
Before the three municipal units could sign a Joint Inter-municipal Co-operation Protocol — a document each council has worked tirelessly on for months — West Hants Warden Richard Dauphinee requested the opportunity to discuss a letter the Town of Windsor sent to Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Affairs.
The letter, which the town allegedly forwarded to Hantsport but not West Hants until requested to do so, asks provincial minister Mark Furey to meet with Windsor town council to discuss municipal reform.
The letter states: “Our town has a promising future; however, our futures can be so much brighter as one united community… one council… one voice. We believe our economic and social potential can only be achieved working as one municipal unit, taking advantage of every efficiency and every opportunity.”
At a meeting that was to focus on working together for the betterment of the region, leaving West Hants out of the loop was a questionable move on Windsor's part. Some view it as disrespectful, a move that undermined the very essence of the protocol they were working towards signing.
Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley didn't see the relevance of discussing the letter in relation to signing the Joint Inter-municipal Co-operation Protocol. What happened next, as evidenced by listening to the conversation, was a tense, uncomfortable exchange that led to Windsor's mayor cutting off the warden on several occasions; the warden, plus two other councillors, leaving the meeting flustered; and a protocol agreement left unsigned.
It's enough to make even the most uninformed voter shake his or her head in disappointment.
How are our municipal leaders supposed to unite and work for the betterment of our region if quarrels like this continue to happen? How will they ever gain our support for any type of municipal reform when they can't see eye to eye?
Sadly, this region's representation is viewed as dysfunctional. The joint council meeting is evidence enough of the discord that exists between Windsor and West Hants. (The Town of Hantsport has all but stayed out of the drama.)
Before any serious consideration can be given to municipal reform, be it annexation, amalgamation, or the dissolution of towns, we must demand better of our elected officials. Write them with your concerns and express why it is imperative they take the high road.
We must encourage all officials to check their egos at the door, set aside personal grudges, and stop playing games. The only way this region can prosper is if councillors agree to work together and not undermine the process. If they can't, we have another couple of years of scraping by to look forward to when we should be thriving instead.