WEST HANTS – The tradition of Princess Hantsport will live on, but it's evolving.
West Hants council decided Tuesday night that the municipality would adopt the former Town of Hantsport's tradition of sponsoring a young woman to compete in the Apple Blossom Festival, but they voted to change things up a bit.
Princess Hantsport will no longer reign over the former town, nor will she retain the same title. She will be called Princess West Hants, and will represent the entire municipality. As such, any woman from the county will be able to apply.
As part of the dissolution process, which saw Hantsport join West Hants in July 2015, Chief Administrative Officer Cathie Osborne has been reviewing, integrating or updating former Hantsport policies and bylaws so that they are more in line with how West Hants does business. She brought forward the idea of still supporting a princess at council's Jan. 12 meeting.
“It's quite a well-supported event in the former Town of Hantsport. Rather than recommending we not do it, we're recommending that we adopt their model and their approach and (she) become a West Hants princess,” said Osborne.
Staff is also recommending that the Apple Blossom activities typically held in Hantsport – like the royal party visit following the coronation of Queen Annapolisa – continue to be held there.
Robbie Zwicker, who served as Hantsport's final mayor, currently sits on West Hants council. He supported the idea.
“It's not a beauty contest. It's a leadership opportunity for young women that we grant and I think extending it in West Hants is fantastic,” said Zwicker.
But Paul Morton, a former Hantsport councillor who was elected to West Hants in a fall byelection, wasn't in agreement.
“Hantsport's been doing it since Day 1. I really don't see the need to change it,” said Morton, before the vote.
“It's just something that's been going on in Hantsport for years. It's something I think should stay in Hantsport,” he said, noting that other communities could select their own princess if they wanted to.
Coun. Jennifer Daniels questioned why they didn't just join with the Town of Windsor and select one woman to represent the entire area.
“Why don't we just team up and call her Princess Avon?” asked Daniels.
Currently, Princess Windsor can be from anywhere in the West Hants or Windsor area. Princess Hantsport was generally from that community, or the nearby Mount Denson and Hants Border.
“Hantsport's no longer a town, it's a community. Perhaps Summerville would like us to sponsor a princess for their area, or Brooklyn. The question is, do we have multiple representations or do we have one representation for West Hants?” said the CAO in response to Morton's suggestion.
She also noted that if they joined with Windsor, they would cut down on the number of young women that could participate in the pageant.
Coun. Shirley Pineo said she has long wanted to see West Hants have their very own princess.
“I've been trying to get a Princess West Hants for years. We always seem to have the girl that was the winner in Windsor and yet it was always called Princess Windsor but she was a West Hants girl,” said Pineo.
“I would love to see a Municipality of West Hants banner on one of the girls.”
Although not unanimous, council voted in favour of changing Princess Hantsport to Princess West Hants and allowing any young woman from the county to enter for the chance to represent the municipality.
As for funding, the CAO said they would continue to support Princess Windsor as well.