Windsor council approves memorandum of understanding with West Hants

Published on February 16, 2017

The newly sworn in Windsor town council pose for a photo following the ceremony on Oct. 25, 2016. Pictured are, from left, Laurie Murley, John Bregante, Mayor Anna Allen, Shelley Bibby, and Jim Ivey.

©Colin Chisholm – Hants Journal

WINDSOR, N.S. - During a special session of Windsor council on Feb. 14, councillors gave the memorandum of understanding with West Hants unanimous approval, thus ending their application to amalgamate the two units, for now.

The special session, which took place shortly before their regularly scheduled committee of the whole meeting, dealt solely with this issue and didn’t take long to conclude before coming to a vote.

Windsor Mayor Anna Allen said much of the discussion on the MOU had already taken place, and the special session was there to formally accept it.

Allen said the MOU was the best way to get over the issue of amalgamation, which she said was becoming an impasse between the two councils.

“I had brought up the piece of amalgamation and (Warden Abraham Zebian) said it’s a sticking point for his council,” Allen said. “So we came back to council and had an MOU drawn up. It took us a while but we all agreed in the end.”

The MOU essentially states that both councils will strive to work together whenever possible, including sharing of services and breaking down barriers between the two units.

In the meantime, Windsor council will suspend their application to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for amalgamation for one year. If things improve in that time they’ll withdraw the application altogether. However, if things don’t materialize, Allen said they’ll resubmit the application.

Allen said they shouldn’t need to go through the provincial department of municipal affairs to ratify the agreement, but did say that this could set the example for municipal relations across the province, after a long, divisive battle over municipal reform.

The third party involved with the amalgamation application, the Avon Region Citizens Coalition, has agreed to suspend their application and monitor how both councils behave.

Allen commended ARC for their efforts.

“If it wasn’t for ARC we wouldn’t be where we are today. I appreciate what they did,” she said. “There was no error in sending in that application, but it was a stumbling block for allowing us to work together.”

A study will still be conducted to determine efficiencies and best practices for the two units.

Allen said she’s confident the province will pay for the study as both units have agreed to it through the MOU.