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Public weighs in on West Hants' proposed new fire substation

<p>Planner Jeanne Bourque, right, and Director of Planning Karen Dempsey, were on hand to gather public input on the proposed new fire substation in Garlands Crossing Sept. 27.</p>
<p>Planner Jeanne Bourque, right, and Director of Planning Karen Dempsey, were on hand to gather public input on the proposed new fire substation in Garlands Crossing Sept. 27.</p>

WEST HANTS – Council chambers were packed Sept. 27 when West Hants' planning department held a public meeting to discuss the proposed fire substation for Garlands Crossing.

The meeting, which was about an hour long, was a civil one, with residents taking turns at the microphone to ask questions of West Hants planner Jeanne Bourque.

Three people spoke in favour of the development, while the remaining people expressed questions over traffic flow, noise, the overall vision of the property and how quickly the project is moving.

Falmouth resident and planner Stan Kochanoff was among the first to speak.

“We don't have any cost information and (with) the proximity of a new election, which possibly could change the face of this council, why the rush in making the decision? You have a lot of things that need to be answered yet,” said Kochanoff.

Bourque said council made the decision in January to prepare the Garlands Crossing site and she didn't feel the process was being rushed.

“Thus far, it's made all the hurtles and it still has a ways to go. So you are very right in that if this goes before council, and there's a new council in November, it'll be up to that council to request and review any requests for proposals, any site designs and any budget considerations,” said Bourque.

She is planning to have the final staff report ready to present for the Oct. 11 council meeting, which is four days before the municipal election. Bourque said a new council could halt plans.

 

 

Questions abound

Hantsport resident Faye Hill, who is vying for a council seat, brought forward concerns she's been hearing. She asked about the first year cost of the new fire service delivery, how it will affect the tax rate, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the new services.

“How can you build anything anywhere in West Hants without a better vision for the long term future to meet and provide such a valuable service to your residents?” she asked.

“All residents in West Hants deserve to feel safe and protected. Listen to what the people are telling you. Keep the shovel in the shed for now!”

 

 

What about Windsor?

Retired Hantsport firefighter Ray Riley said he didn't understand why the Windsor Fire Department wasn't being used.

“I don't understand why we do not have our Windsor Fire Department – a beautiful fire department with about 70 men. When I was in the fire department, we operated from Hantsport halfway to Windsor, halfway to Wolfville. We had no problems whatsoever. We covered the whole area,” said Riley.

He said he felt the project was “a total waste of money” that was “unnecessary.”

Tony Duke, a resident along the Mount Denson and Falmouth border, said he was “very concerned” that they have a planning document that looks at the county but excludes the Town of Windsor.

“I don't know a lot about planning but it does seem odd that we're considering fire stations in this huge area of the municipality without considering the needs of the town and the resources in the town and what the town thinks they should do,” said Duke. “It just seems very unbalanced and I just think it needs further consideration.”

 

 

In favour of the project

About half of the room was comprised of Brooklyn Station 1 and Station 2 firefighters.

Brooklyn officer George Pineo, who is related to West Hants Coun. Shirley Pineo, spoke in favour of the project proceeding.

He brought up the 2008 Cyril Hare Report, which was not accepted by West Hants council when it was first presented. (The report recommended West Hants continue its contract with the Windsor Fire Department, citing cost efficiency.) Pineo brought up the report as he said it recommended substations.

“My opinion is that our council, like most governments, have studies done upon studies and this is just another example of what one of the studies had said almost eight years ago of something that's needed,” said Pineo.

“So, I'm in favour of this fire station. I believe it actually accentuates and improves our service.”

A resident living near the proposed site also spoke in favour, saying he thought it could lower his insurance rates.

 

Going forward

Falmouth resident Tom Calkin said it's difficult to ask questions without knowing more about the project as Bourque presented the public with a bare bones staff report.

“My point of all this is that you're asking for public input when input hasn't been given to the public about the project itself in its totality. There is no costing done,” said Calkin.

He asked if another public meeting could be held once she has compiled all of the necessary details so the public could have a more informed discussion.

Bourque said that was out of her hands.

“Should we perhaps do another public meeting? That will be up to council to determine because at this point, I don't have any jurisdiction as far as planning goes,” said Bourque.

“But it will be up to council if they wanted to call another pubic meeting once the full staff report is done and then there would be more meat on the bones, so to speak, to discuss.”

She said she would include that suggestion in the staff report she presents to council. While Bourque is compiling the final report, she said she welcomes emails, letters, and phone calls from those who have questions on the proposed site.

 

The meeting, which was about an hour long, was a civil one, with residents taking turns at the microphone to ask questions of West Hants planner Jeanne Bourque.

Three people spoke in favour of the development, while the remaining people expressed questions over traffic flow, noise, the overall vision of the property and how quickly the project is moving.

Falmouth resident and planner Stan Kochanoff was among the first to speak.

“We don't have any cost information and (with) the proximity of a new election, which possibly could change the face of this council, why the rush in making the decision? You have a lot of things that need to be answered yet,” said Kochanoff.

Bourque said council made the decision in January to prepare the Garlands Crossing site and she didn't feel the process was being rushed.

“Thus far, it's made all the hurtles and it still has a ways to go. So you are very right in that if this goes before council, and there's a new council in November, it'll be up to that council to request and review any requests for proposals, any site designs and any budget considerations,” said Bourque.

She is planning to have the final staff report ready to present for the Oct. 11 council meeting, which is four days before the municipal election. Bourque said a new council could halt plans.

 

 

Questions abound

Hantsport resident Faye Hill, who is vying for a council seat, brought forward concerns she's been hearing. She asked about the first year cost of the new fire service delivery, how it will affect the tax rate, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the new services.

“How can you build anything anywhere in West Hants without a better vision for the long term future to meet and provide such a valuable service to your residents?” she asked.

“All residents in West Hants deserve to feel safe and protected. Listen to what the people are telling you. Keep the shovel in the shed for now!”

 

 

What about Windsor?

Retired Hantsport firefighter Ray Riley said he didn't understand why the Windsor Fire Department wasn't being used.

“I don't understand why we do not have our Windsor Fire Department – a beautiful fire department with about 70 men. When I was in the fire department, we operated from Hantsport halfway to Windsor, halfway to Wolfville. We had no problems whatsoever. We covered the whole area,” said Riley.

He said he felt the project was “a total waste of money” that was “unnecessary.”

Tony Duke, a resident along the Mount Denson and Falmouth border, said he was “very concerned” that they have a planning document that looks at the county but excludes the Town of Windsor.

“I don't know a lot about planning but it does seem odd that we're considering fire stations in this huge area of the municipality without considering the needs of the town and the resources in the town and what the town thinks they should do,” said Duke. “It just seems very unbalanced and I just think it needs further consideration.”

 

 

In favour of the project

About half of the room was comprised of Brooklyn Station 1 and Station 2 firefighters.

Brooklyn officer George Pineo, who is related to West Hants Coun. Shirley Pineo, spoke in favour of the project proceeding.

He brought up the 2008 Cyril Hare Report, which was not accepted by West Hants council when it was first presented. (The report recommended West Hants continue its contract with the Windsor Fire Department, citing cost efficiency.) Pineo brought up the report as he said it recommended substations.

“My opinion is that our council, like most governments, have studies done upon studies and this is just another example of what one of the studies had said almost eight years ago of something that's needed,” said Pineo.

“So, I'm in favour of this fire station. I believe it actually accentuates and improves our service.”

A resident living near the proposed site also spoke in favour, saying he thought it could lower his insurance rates.

 

Going forward

Falmouth resident Tom Calkin said it's difficult to ask questions without knowing more about the project as Bourque presented the public with a bare bones staff report.

“My point of all this is that you're asking for public input when input hasn't been given to the public about the project itself in its totality. There is no costing done,” said Calkin.

He asked if another public meeting could be held once she has compiled all of the necessary details so the public could have a more informed discussion.

Bourque said that was out of her hands.

“Should we perhaps do another public meeting? That will be up to council to determine because at this point, I don't have any jurisdiction as far as planning goes,” said Bourque.

“But it will be up to council if they wanted to call another pubic meeting once the full staff report is done and then there would be more meat on the bones, so to speak, to discuss.”

She said she would include that suggestion in the staff report she presents to council. While Bourque is compiling the final report, she said she welcomes emails, letters, and phone calls from those who have questions on the proposed site.

 

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