Windsor’s town council is entertaining the idea of annexation.
According to the Municipal Government Act (MGA), “municipalities may be amalgamated or the whole or part of a municipality may be annexed to another upon application” to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board by the Municipal Affairs Minister, a municipality or “the greater of ten per cent or one hundred of the electors in the area proposed to be amalgamated or annexed.”
Coun. Scott Geddes asked that an annexation discussion be added to the agenda during a strategy and policy meeting held May 20.
Prior to the annexation conversation, CAO Louis Coutinho said Windsor’s town council differs from other councils trying to achieve sustainability through reform.
“We’re looking beyond sustainability into prosperity,” he said.
Leading the annexation discussion, Coun. Scott Geddes said previous discussions with Windsor’s ‘neighbours’ about the possibility of amalgamation ended abruptly, with the other party showing little interest in the idea.
Geddes suggested it may be time to look into the financial viability of annexation, and engage the public on the topic.
“There certainly seems to be a very strong desire by several citizens around us to continue to use and enjoy the services that this town provides and I’m just wondering if perhaps we should have a community discussion,” he said.
Geddes said he is prepared to respect the wishes of neighbouring councils, and those councils must also respect the decisions made in Windsor’s council chambers.
“We may look at this and realize there is no gain whatsoever to be had here,” he said.
Coun. Laurie Murley spoke in favour of annexation twice at the meeting.
“My preference is annexation,” she said. “I do think that we have a good case for that as it stands right now and… I think my fellow councillors agree and others probably agree with that, too.”
Deputy Mayor John Bregante agrees.
“I too would like to go the annexation route,” he said. “I think we need to sit down with the province and find out what’s all involved. We also have to include our solicitor in those talks as well.”
Bregante estimated it could take three to four months to gather the information needed for a public meeting on the subject.
“With what’s going to play out over the next two or three months it might give us that much more fire for the annexation mode of the people of Falmouth, Mount Denson and all that sort of thing,” said Bregante.
Bregante said his “biggest fear” is that somebody could get hurt if the Windsor Fire Society does stop providing service to West Hants.
Murley said she’d like to have such municipal reform options as amalgamation and annexation discussed at a public meeting to give residents the opportunity to provide feedback in the early stages of the process.
“I’d like to see us have a town hall meeting — and soon.”
Mayor Paul Beazley said he’d prefer to see the Town of Windsor working with willing partners to achieve municipal reform, but a case can also be made for annexation.
“The reason we would be doing it is because it makes business sense as far as the growth and prosperity of the town,” he said.
Murley stressed the importance of citizens in the outlying areas that could be involved in an annexation gaining something from the process as well.
“It’s got to be win-win,” she said.