WINDSOR – Another town wants to merge with it’s larger neighbour.
Windsor’s council approved a motion Oct. 20 to apply to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for amalgamation, with one big caveat: the province foots the bill.
“There’s big dollars (needed) to go forward with an application,” Mayor Paul Beazley said. “I think we all recognize that we would need to have the province on side with their resources to move forward.”
“If the province all of a sudden says we’re on the hook for this because we don’t agree with it anymore, we’re talking $500,000 or something like that,” he said. “I think we want to make sure when we go in with this, that council would go in with the concept that the province is on side too.”
There are three options for applying according to the chief administrative officer’s report.
First, the town can make an application, based on the request from the Avon Regional Citizens Coalition and support the position that both municipalities dissolve and create a new municipality. Or, Windsor can wait and make a joint application with the municipality of West Hants on the basis that they may join with the ARC’s petition to amalgamate. The third option, the report said, is make application to the province for a different model other than amalgamation, such as dissolution.
Councillors agreed with the fist two recommendations, preferring amalgamation to dissolution.
The original motion, agreed upon at a previous committee of the whole meeting, was amended to include the clause that an application is dependent on financial support from the province.
Council approved the amended motion.
Kevin White, an organizer with ARC said he already has more than 2,000 signatures on the amalgamation petition, putting the citizens’ group over the minimum 10 per cent required to apply.
“The number of electors in the town and the number of electors in West Hants would approximate 1,450,” White said. “So, at 2,000, we’re well past it.”
ARC members will be meeting shortly to discuss their progress. The petition process began near the beginning of October.
“We’ll confirm the numbers even more so and decide on our next actions,” he said. “We are on West Hants schedule to present what we are doing officially on Oct. 27.”
White said he plans make the same request to West Hants as to Windsor, asking for council to make an application to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
“People can still sign the petition as long as we haven’t made the formal application,” he said. “There is a lot of work to be done in making a utility and review board application. It’s not easy.”
White said he agrees with Windsor council’s decision to only make the application if the province supports it financially.
“Similarly with us, if the province wasn’t able to fund it, there’s no hundreds of thousands of dollars in the citizens group to make it go forward,” he said.
“We are most hopeful West Hants will make it unanimous,” he said. “We are going to West Hants with our arms wide open, hoping they’ll join us. If they don’t wish to do that, we won’t stop our process, but it’s always better to be a united community.”
Plenty of ways to sign
The amalgamation petition is available at the Falmouth Farmers Market and Kwik Way convenience store along with other small businesses and the Windsor town office.
ARC organizer Kevin White said, if people want to sign it, the group will find a way to make it happen.