Members of Windsor Town Council, including Dave Seeley (left), Laurie Murley, Scott Geddes and Mayor Paul Beazley, sign a petition to amalgamate Windsor and the Municipality of West Hants.
WINDSOR – The Avon Region Citizens Coalition (ARC) has changed their petition from annexation to amalgamation and Windsor council is on board with the idea.
Oct. 6, Greg Miller, an organizer with ARC, told Windsor council about the rationale behind the decision and why they need the town’s support.
“Literally minutes after (our last meeting) Rob Frost (with municipal affairs) approached us and said we could go ahead with an annexation petition, but it won’t go very far because the province isn’t for annexation,” Miller said. “However, if you want to go for amalgamation, the province is all for that.”
With that, Miller said ARC decided to change the wording in the petition from annexation to amalgamation.
Annexation would have seen Falmouth, and potentially other areas around Windsor, become part of the town and leave the Municipality of West Hants.
Amalgamation means a joining of both units completely.
“The Town of Windsor would surrender its charter, West Hants would surrender its charter and one brand new Avon region would be created - one government for everyone,” he said.
Miller said after the council meeting that it’s not a matter of if they can get enough signatures, but when.
“We really needed to get at least one municipal unit on board with us and the town of Windsor was the first one we’ve approached and they’ve said yes,” Miller said. “In a couple of weeks we’ll be at (West Hants Council) asking the same question and we’ll see what kind of response we get.”
“The response has been extremely good: door-to-door it’s 95 per cent success rate or people signing,” Miller said. “If we’re standing out in the area, it’s probably 80 per cent of people signing and thanking us for doing this.”
Miller said approximately 25 petition canvassers have been to Belmont, Brooklyn, Falmouth, Vaughans, Garlands Crossing and Hantsport since Oct. 3.
“We’ve got between 500 and 600 signatures so far, but we know there’s a lot of people out there who haven’t signed yet,” he said. “We need 10 per cent, so we’ll need at least 1,600 or 1,700 signatures in West Hants.”
Miller is hoping to hit the target by the end of October.
Mayor Paul Beazley signed the petition on Oct. 6, as did other members of council.
“The rationale is the future of our region here, the reality is that we’re way too small to have two municipal governments,” Mayor Beazley said. “For the best of the region’s future, we need to do it, and everybody knows we need to do it.”
Beazley said if 10 per cent of the citizens sign the petition to amalgamate, then council will proceed with the process.
“I signed the petition because I would have signed it six years ago if there was an opportunity to sign it back then,” he said. “I’ve been a strong advocate for amalgamation for many years here and I see this as one avenue to get to one Avon region.”
Chief administrative officer Louis Coutinho said he plans to advise council at their next regular meeting to make an application to the province for amalgamation to show that the town is receptive to the idea.
But what happens when one of the two units doesn’t want to amalgamate?
“That’s up to the province to make a decision, the province may be required to act on that,” Coutinho said. “If the citizens want it, and one of the units says they’re agreeable to the petition and are making an application then I think the province will have to (consider it).”
ARC members will present their updated petition to West Hants council later this month.