WEST HANTS, N.S. — West Hants councillors voted in favour of levelling the playing field when it comes to co-operation and working with the Town of Windsor.
On March 13, West Hants council decided that it would agree to work with the Town of Windsor and the province on a regional governance program if the Town of Windsor withdrew its amalgamation application that is currently before the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board.
Three councillors, Jennifer Daniels, Randy Hussey and Kathy Monroe, all spoke against the motion.
Daniels said she didn't feel including the condition that the town must remove themselves from the UARB process was in good faith.
Hussey said he wouldn't be supporting the motion for that same reason.
“If council does approve this motion, that ties our hands so we cannot proceed if they do not pull out from the UARB,” said Hussey.
“I don't know what their mindset is but I don't think we need to hold a gun to their head or they need to hold a gun to our head.”
Coun. Robbie Zwicker, however, saw things differently.
“The fact is, they have a gun towards our head,” said Zwicker, noting Warden Abraham Zebian “spoke quite candidly” during the committee of the whole meeting Feb. 27 on the subject.
“I think the condition is reasonable and it would be a sign of good faith from the town if they withdrew the application so that we could work together collaboratively.”
Gun references abounded during the nighttime discussion.
“We're putting a gun to their head consciously when that's exactly what you're railing against. They've offered they want to work with us; we want to work with them,” said Monroe, urging councillors to work with Windsor instead of putting stipulations on the process.
“Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot with that,” Monroe continued.
“What you felt all last year — that you felt you had a gun to your head — that's exactly what you would be doing to them. I think that's highly unfair.”
Coun. Tanya Leopold said they need to be on the same page in order to move forward.
“At this moment, if you want to level the playing field, then you should be on the exact same playing field, which is you either want to work with us or you don't,” Leopold said.
“In my experience... what I'm noticing is that if things don't go exactly the way that that particular council likes, then they pull out the gun.”
Leopold and the Town of Windsor's mayor had a heated exchange during the last joint council meeting where the issue of a regional governance pilot project was initially pitched.
Leopold said the two municipal units are already making strides in working together and she feels they can continue that progress more easily if Windsor withdraws its support of amalgamation.
“I am quite disappointed in that particular council to continue with their support for the amalgamation application because they feel that we've not done enough,” said Leopold. “I'd like to see the playing field equal. Let's do it or not. Just be honest with yourselves — you either want to work with us or you don't.”
The motion passed 7-3; with Daniels, Hussey and Monroe voting in opposition.