Province willing to appoint fire services mediator

Ashley Thompson
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West Hants Warden called emergency council meeting

Although the Windsor Fire Department has been without an agreement with the Municipality of West Hants for about four years, the volunteer firefighting force continues to provide service and mutual aid to rural residents.

It’s not over until it’s over.

The provincial government is open to the idea of appointing a mediator to help sort out the fire services contract between the Municipality of West Hants and the Windsor Fire Department (WFD).

Municipal Affairs Minister Mark Furey confirmed the provincial government is willing to get involved in the stalled fire services negotiations in an e-mail sent to the Hants Journal May 21.

“We are monitoring the situation in West Hants given the public safety considerations related to the provision of fire protection and services. We are prepared to provide support for third-party mediation providing the parties involved (Town of Windsor, District of West Hants, and Fire Department) agree and support this process,” said Furey.

“Government sees value in the provision of shared regional services and encourages municipalities to explore that kind of arrangement where it makes sense.”

West Hants Warden Richard Dauphinee, the first to inform the public of the government’s offer to the municipality, called an emergency council meeting for May 23 after learning Municipal Affairs is willing to intervene. 

Dauphinee stressed that it will be up to council as a whole to decide if they wish to accept Furey’s offer.

“I’m going to be recommending that to our council but I’m only one vote,” the warden said.

This new development comes about a week after West Hants council voted 6-3 in favour of parting ways with the Windsor Fire Department, and creating a new, stand-alone fire service in West Hants.

If council is open to allowing a mediator to come in, the motion calling on West Hants to end its service contract with the WFD would be put on the backburner, Dauphinee said.

 “If they agree to mediation, you wouldn’t proceed. You would leave it alone until the mediation ended.”

Having someone from the outside take a look at the situation, and guide the parties through a transparent negotiating process, may lead to a long-awaited resolution, Dauphinee added.

“Fresh eyes might be a real good thing.”

Hants West MLA Chuck Porter is the catalyst behind the provincial government taking an interest in the local fire services issues that have many residents fired up.

Porter, who encouraged citizens to share their concerns with their elected officials, Municipal Affairs and Premier Stephen McNeil, called on the provincial government to get involved following the public outcry in response to West Hants council’s recent decision to end its long-standing partnership with the Windsor Fire Department.

“I’m hopeful that we can move forward and I’m pleased that the minister and his department have saw fit to appoint someone to come in and help us out,” said Porter.

“It’s very important.”

Organizations: Windsor Fire Department, West Hants council, Municipality of West Hants Hants Journal

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

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Recent comments

  • John
    May 22, 2014 - 14:11

    Good for you RA. HERE HERE. The Chief is doing just what you said. He should be providing what is asked for all this would be all over. West Hants isn't there to do their books, then you would hear that they didn't something funny to them. Provide what is asked for. Same thing over and over. Because people disagree means you are an EX fire fighter? No means you are being impartial and trying to look at what is the RIGHT thing to do. FACTS in PRINT not what you read from others. Yes we need to grow, yes we need jobs. Maybe (and I am not agreeing without seeing the financials) we need these new stations to cover the potential growth and new opportunities. Change can be good at times if it sound financial decisions. Emotions out of the picture.

    • CountyTaxPayingFireFighter
      May 23, 2014 - 07:25

      You forget that the CAO and staff and Jerry in financial have seen the books. They understand how things are done and understand the so called "receipt" issue. WFD has offered many times to sit down with West Hants staff and go over the books. THe financials are available through CRA, Joint Stocks, open records. Review them and come to WFD with questions. In this day and age no one duplicates services and calls that a sound financial decision. If you listen to the news you hear all the time about companies down sizing and out-sourcing. There's no money in NS and West Hants is no exception. We cannot afford to duplicate services!! You need not look past the tremendous expense of this foolish venture to find a reason to shut it down!

    • HA
      May 23, 2014 - 08:16

      Now that you've said your piece you can go crawl back under the council desk with RA.

    • Leah Rissesco
      May 24, 2014 - 09:49

      Dear John, the accounting practices of Windsor Fire are, and have always been, open and available to West Hants staff. If they do not have the expertise to analyze the details then they are obviously not the people for those jobs. The only major new growth that sticks out in my mind at the moment in WH is at km marker 275/276 on the 101. I can't see how a fire station at Garlands Cross (with Brooklyn in between) could possibly be considered anything but duplicated, overlapping (physically) services. Since Brooklyn has a brand new $3 mil station and all those nice shinny new trucks (and an ariel to come ?) surely they can take on a new development so close to their own back yard. Obviously council has no problem dictating who gets what service and/or equipment after they have paid for it. Regardless of weather or not it is warranted. Meanwhile I'll brace for the economic impact of all this growth that the municipality hasn't managed to alienate away.

    • Oh joy
      May 28, 2014 - 11:43

      Also in light of the new information in regards to the chief I'm curious to know - do you and RA have issues with the chief too and that's why you're pushing this through? Maybe I had this wrong. I thought you two were ex-firefighters, maybe you just hate the chief. This is not a financial matter - this is a personal problem/vendetta.

  • NoOneListensAnyway
    May 22, 2014 - 10:30

    It is VERY clear to me that the Minister's office is not even paying attention. WHY in the world would the Town of Windsor get involved? That doesn't make any sense. The Windsor Fire Departments is it's own entity. They provide fire service to the Town of Windsor and despite not receiving payment in over a year, they provide service to West Hants. Why would the Town of Windsor get involved in negotiations between the Windsor Fire Department and West Hants??? If Waste Management was having a dispute with Hantsport, would we invite Chester to the negotiations? Of course not. Just because multiple parties receive a service from one provider doesn't mean they should have input in the contracts of others.

  • Trevor
    May 21, 2014 - 20:15

    Does anyone know if this meeting will be open to the public? If so, tell anyone who will listen to go and show council that this decision is too important to make without public input, i.e. a plebiscite. Even if the public is not allowed in chambers, gather outside and show your support!!

  • Valley Viewer
    May 21, 2014 - 19:39

    Get your head out of the sand RA. No one is more messed up than West Hants Council. By your tone, I'd almost guess you were one of them, or a spurned EX fire fighter. There is no need to duplicate services, and as a taxpayer in West Hants, I'm not willing to pay any more than we have been for fire services. We have a more than capable force in Windsor, and great support crews in our neighbouring communities. Work with the mediator to determine a proper annual funding commitment, and then index it to a combination of inflation and tax base/ratepayers. There are so many other important issues that our council should be working on. We need to grow this area...we need jobs...we need gainful employment and people spending their time and money in our area. I'm ashamed of most of our council and their behaviour. There needs to be a major change come the next municipal election...I just hope people are paying enough attention to this debacle to do something about it. I know I will.

  • RA
    May 21, 2014 - 18:28

    This is a bad idea and a waste of time. The so called not for profit WFD has already shown they will not cooperate. A not for profit club should be very cooperative with their biggest financial supporter, but the WFD would rather cut their nose off to spite their face. I don’t think they will ever cooperate. The Chief has already taken the stance that he’s not going to give an itemized list of expenses. Such a small thing to do, but yet he would rather lose funding and maybe even his fire department. Pretty arrogant if you ask me.

    • LOL
      May 21, 2014 - 20:13

      Why don't you explain why West Hants has declined to look through the books as the chief has offered before? Besides - what are you West Hants supporters looking for? I mean - if they've saved some money over the years at least they're being financially responsible in this day and age unlike our council.

    • Ryan
      May 21, 2014 - 22:45

      Of course you think it's a bad idea. You're chomping at the bit for your new dept to be set up so you and whoever else can do your thing.

    • A
      May 22, 2014 - 11:51

      RA I don't see any need for the wfd to have to give individual receipts to west hants. It's over burdensome and frankly - none of our business how they spend the money they are given as long as they provide a service. I'd be all for something new if the service they provided cost a lot more then other fire departments in the province or that the service they provided was not adequate, or there was something that pointed to substantial misappropriation of funds, but none of that is the case from what I can tell. Splitting a bunch of volunteers up is about as stupid as you can get. Duplicating services and administration costs is stupid. Building more buildings and running those is stupid. Asking for individual receipts for a service that is provided is stupid. Every time either side gets asked a question it's always the same story that there is more too it but we can't tell you for some reason that is stupid. Getting the drift. A mediator will helpfully expose which side is stupid. If someone does not agree to this process then it will tell us which side is the stupid ones.

  • Sandy Hopkins
    May 21, 2014 - 16:48

    Thank god....I hope this goes through and gets resolved! Thank you Chuck for putting the wheels in motion! Big shout out to Carole Morris-Underhill and Ashley Thompson for all their hard work and many hours put in over the last week keeping the public updated with all this going on....great job ladies! Thank you!

    • Don't Count Your Chickens
      May 22, 2014 - 10:37

      I wouldn't get excited yet. Minister Furey's office is trying to draw the Town of Windsor into this ugly dispute between the WFD and West Hants. The Town and West Hants are not known for their cooperation with each other. This can't end well. This matter is strictly between WFD and West Hants but look at the quote from Furey....We are prepared to provide support for third-party mediation providing the parties involved (Town of Windsor, District of West Hants, and Fire Department) agree and support this process,” said Furey. THE TOWN ISN'T INVOLVED AND SHOULDN'T BE DRAWN INTO THIS.

  • citizen
    May 21, 2014 - 14:34


    • Leah Rissesco
      May 21, 2014 - 15:32

      Not yet it isn't. Council has to agree.

    • Ha
      May 21, 2014 - 16:43

      I'm concerned our great leaders (sarcasm) will not agree to this. I mean, why would they at this point? This is political suicide for them and they know it and embrace it. They don't care about the community at this point. I hope they prove me wrong.