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Top 4 things to know from Windsor’s Jan. 22 meeting

<p lang="en-US">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.</p>
For more new on Windsor council, stay on this website - Colin Chisholm

WINDSOR, N.S. — Windsor town council had a packed agenda for their regular meeting on Jan. 22, with many hot button items getting kicked down the road a bit to get reports from staff.

Windsor avoids taking stance on plastic bag ban, for now

Windsor Mayor Anna Allen said she has received many media enquiries regarding the town’s position on plastic bags, and wanted to get clarity on what council’s position was.

HRM recently voted in favour of a ban and other municipalities are expected to follow suit.

“HRM has taken the lead on this and they have about six or seven other municipal units on board,” Allen said.

HRM, Nova Scotia’s largest municipality, is expected to pass a bylaw prohibiting plastic bags by the end of 2019.

“We certainly have a number of businesses who utilize plastic bags and some don’t and some customers are using their own,” she said. “Would it be a real heartache for (a ban) to happen here? I don’t really think it would.”

Todd Richard, the director of public works, informed council that Region 6, which oversees waste collection for the South Shore and the Windsor area, would like to see a province-wide ban on the bags, rather than a municipality-by-municipality approach.

“They are aware that there’s an impact on small businesses,” Richard said. “If the town bans bags and the municipality doesn’t, then that creates an issue.”

He suggested waiting to see how the ban proceeds with other municipalities in the meantime.

Allen suggested it might make more sense to wait until Windsor and West Hants are consolidated into one municipal unit, which is scheduled to happen on April 1, 2020.

She added that she would like to see a provincial mandate as well.

In the meantime, council’s position will be to wait and see how things go in other municipal units.

Underwood Drive emergency gate issue to get proper debate

Windsor received correspondence that the municipality of West Hants is planning to install an emergency gate between The Crossing and Windsor’s Underwood Drive subdivision.

Coun. Jim Ivey said this particular issue has become a recurring point of contention for both councils for some time — noting it keeps getting set aside with no concrete debate.

He’s planning to change that. He made a motion to rescind council’s earlier motion to formally close off the end of Underwood Drive.

By making that motion, council will now have to debate how to proceed during a future Windsor council meeting.

Council had previously closed off the end of Underwood Drive following a dispute with the developer, Valley Homes. The company’s president, Mitch Brison, said he wanted to open up access for public safety.

Council at the time voted to close the end of the road, citing the character of the existing neighbourhood and a future roads plan, which would connect the end of Cole Drive near the Super 8 motel to Garlands Crossing.

“It’s one of those items that just kind of bounces around and this council hasn’t really discussed it,” Ivey said. “They’re planning to build a gate… but travelling through there would be illegal trespass.”

Ivey mentioned that, as reported in the recent Hants History column, Windsor and West Hants were readying to proceed with legal action over the Brightwood proposed subdivision — a different area — some 25 years ago.

“This becomes an item that we never discuss. I know it’s a letter in the agenda, but we don’t have it in here as a discussion point or a report,” he said. “In order to get this on the agenda, I’m prepared to put forward a motion to rescind the policy from Sept. 22, 2015, and I’ll do that now.”

The motion Ivey wants to rescind was to close off the end of Underwood Drive.

Staff will prepare a report for council to debate at a future meeting.

Deed transfer tax exemption for first time home buyers mulled

Council also received a letter from the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors, asking for them to consider waiving or spreading out the deed transfer tax for first time home buyers.

The deed transfer tax is a one-time municipal tax that is levied every time a property is sold, and it’s incurred by the buyer.

The association is suggesting to waive that tax as an incentive to encourage more young people to buy property.

Deputy Mayor Laurie Murley said she was intrigued by the concept of spreading that tax burden out over five years, as opposed to a one-time tax, to help lighten the blow. Windsor, and most municipalities, charge 1.50 per cent of the property cost as the DTT.

Allen said she’d like to know how many first-time homebuyers are actually purchasing homes in the community.

Council agreed that a staff report and more information would be needed before proceeding.

West Hants requesting more money for indoor soccer facility

The town also received correspondence from the municipality of West Hants, requesting $800,000 to help finance the indoor soccer facility, which would be attached to the new hockey arena being built at the exhibition grounds.

The town previously committed $1 million over five years towards the hockey component of the facility.

A staff report will be drafted for council on the potential impacts of the request and the issue will be debated at a future meeting.

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