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LETTER: Amalgamation is good for Windsor-West Hants


For a combined population of less than 20,000 people, do we really need two municipal councils with 17 people to govern us? Wouldn't it make more sense to have eight or nine people govern us who are prepared to look after everyone?

Feel passionate about something you read or saw in the Journal? Concerned about a decision of council? Why not get it off your chest and write a letter to the editor.

Do we really need to duplicate services that residents of both communities need, and what's wrong with sharing these facilities?

Both of our current councils continue to disappoint us with respect to working together on matters that are in the best interests of everyone.

The recent decision by the West Hants council to terminate their contract with the Windsor Fire Department and to go on their own with a separate fire service is a prime example of going in the wrong direction in a time when smaller rural areas need to be working together.

It's time to forget the years of disfunctionality between councils, personality conflicts, conflicts of interests and people who have stopped listening to their constituents.

I have heard that some West Hants councillors would like the Town of Windsor to die and dissolve so West Hants can absorb them as they did Hantsport. Honestly, is that the kind of leadership and thinking that can move us ahead?

Both Windsor and West Hants need each other. The Town of Windsor is our core; it has a lot of great facilities that are used by all regardless of where we live.

Many of us who live in West Hants volunteer our time for many worthwhile activities in Windsor. Many people in Windsor reciprocate in West Hants. Nobody cares where you are from when you are working for a common cause. It's not you and them; we're all in this together.

It's time to move forward with a smaller group who are willing to make things happen and improve things for everyone in the Windsor-West-Hants area.

The provincial government encourages amalgamation for smaller communities who are struggling but are reluctant to force communities to do so as was done with the formation of the Halifax Regional Municipality years ago. They prefer a citizen-led process that involves the gathering of a minimum of 10 per cent of the electorate to petition the URAB for consideration to amalgamate.

An off-shoot petition group from the Avon Residents Citizens (ARC) has been active in gathering signatures for the past month in both the Town of Windsor and the districts of West Hants. We have secured more than 2,300 signatures, which is well over the 10 per cent target. We have gone to both councils and asked them to join us in our request for amalgamation.

The residents of Windsor and the town council of Windsor are supportive of this initiative.

On Oct. 27, West Hants council heard our presentation for amalgamation and have tabled our request until mid-November and more information is received

Why amalgamate and why is it a good idea? Our present structure isn't working and our two councils can't seem to work co-operatively on matters that are in the best interests of everyone. A new, streamlined combined District Municipality of Windsor-West Hants — or call it what you

want — trimmed to eight councillors, who are keen to make things happen, and an elected warden or mayor should be able to run things much more efficiently.

With one governance structure, everyone is working together for the best interests of the entire community. Infighting, empire-building and one-upmanship should go the way of the dodo bird!

Yes, there may be a few higher profile jobs lost among the administration side but cost savings should result in reducing duplication in some higher paying positions such as CAOs, financial officers, development and building inspectors, etcetera, where only one is needed to do the job.

We would also have the benefit of one central firefighting and emergency centre with satellites in the rural areas as they are now. Resources could be concentrated on upgrading equipment and facilities instead of worrying whether there is enough to survive.

On the down side, there is always the concern that taxes will go up sharply because of the inequities in taxes between the county and the town. There is a fear that the rural people with lower taxes will have to share the burden of the higher tax areas like Windsor but in reality, taxes would be based on an area rate and the taxes levied as to the type of services enjoyed. In other words, if you don’t have sewer or municipal water services, your taxes would not be the same as those that do.

Also, in today’s world, there is no assurance that taxes will not rise and if we chose status quo, taxes will definitely rise if West Hants carries on with the construction of two more fire stations in Three Mile Plains on their $500,000 property and builds another one in Falmouth. The borrowing of an additional $9 million would be for capital construction and then there are the annual maintenance costs of maintaining these new stations.

The positives of amalgamation greatly outweigh the negatives and the opportunity to create a municipality where we are all one and working together for the future prosperity of the entire region makes good sense.

It’s time to put all the foolishness behind us and create a united group to work together and make things happen for the betterment of everyone. The time is so right for change. Let’s move on.

In the words of Spock: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Please support this citizen-led initiative for amalgamation and let’s make it happen now!

 

 

Stan Kochanoff,

Falmouth

 

 

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