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ARC supportive of suspending Windsor, West Hants amalgamation application

FALMOUTH, N.S. — The citizen-led group that initiated the UARB's involvement in municipal reform for the region will support suspending the application to amalgamate Windsor and West Hants.

Tom Calkin helped spread the message of ARC to those gathered at a rally outside the West Hants municipal building on Aug. 25, 2015 .

But, they will be keeping tabs on how the two municipal units work together during the year-long hiatus.

Tom Calkin, the chair of the Avon Region Citizens Coalition (ARC), said the group is hopeful the Town of Windsor and Municipality of West Hants will indeed be able to work cooperatively together for the betterment of the entire region.

“We're not wanting to be a roadblock,” said Calkin in a phone interview.

On Feb. 8, Windsor and West Hants councils signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together on initiatives that will create efficiencies to benefit the community at large. As part of the MOU, the Town of Windsor agreed to suspend its amalgamation application – an application that West Hants council had been opposing since Day 1.

Windsor Mayor Anna Allen said on Feb. 8 that the amalgamation application “was really standing in the way of progress.”

In order to temporarily suspend the amalgamation process, their request must be accepted by the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board.

“If we had had councils working together in the last number of years in the same tone and talk that is going on now, the process and the call for amalgamation might not have progressed, really,” said Calkin.

He said ARC's mandate is to improve governance for the area. If the councils can work together, that's a step in the right direction and one that the group will support.

“We would have liked to have seen full amalgamation take place, but we're certainly pragmatic and interested in making sure that everything that happens is good for our community,” said Calkin.

As the municipalities seek ways to improve the area, Calkin said ARC will be keeping track of their successes and failures.

“We will continue to go to councils, we will see how they're making out, and we're hoping that they do a real good job at it,” said Calkin, noting they will be examining the upcoming budgets to see what efficiencies have been found.

ARC will be watching for such things as the construction and ownership of the proposed Birthplace of Hockey arena and a more regionalized fire service that involves the Windsor Fire Department. Calkin said both are items that will demonstrate how well the municipal units are working together.

A press release issued by ARC says they will do “an in-depth review of the benefits arising from this new spirit of cooperation between the municipalities” at the conclusion of 12 months.

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