Over the past couple of years, fire protection services have been a major issue. Nothing formally has been resolved, with the matter still dragging on in mediation for the past several months. Whether this issue will come to a successful conclusion is still questionable.
On another issue, there has been a strong drive to build another arena to replace the Hants Exhibition Arena because of constant in-fighting between the Windsor Agricultural Society and the Town of Windsor and the strange lack of financial support for the arena operation by West Hants council. Strange, because when you look at the make-up of the users of the ice arena, 75-85 per cent are from the county.
For the past year, there have been pretty strong organizing efforts to develop a new arena in the College Road area adjacent to Long Pond, with the objective of tying it into the Birthplace of Hockey. It’s a nice idea, but costs had apparently escalated ($17-18 million) and people questioned whether the project could fly and be sustainable. The last I heard, the project has been scaled down to $8-9 million and is still under consideration by the organizers.
Many people, and particularly those of us who are seniors and old-timer participants who continue to use the present arena, feel that if both the councils of West Hants and the Town of Windsor were willing to work out a reasonable arrangement with the Windsor Agricultural Society and commit to invest $2-3 million each to renovate the present arena, we could have a first class arena facility.
There would also be a good possibility of obtaining funding for renovations from the province.
With the agricultural society providing free rent to the Windsor Rink Commission for all these years, some of the money raised between all parties (councils and province) could be used to build an extra barn for horse and cattle events for the Hants County Exhibition to alleviate the complaint of the late start-up of hockey season for the present arena.
I think the majority of people feel the best location for an arena is the present site due to its easy access from the Highway 101 interchange. Also, Wentworth Road is an arterial route, there is parking availability and surrounding commercial amenities.
The smart money would be to pump $5-6 million into the existing arena and develop it into a first class facility by adding some heated areas for spectators, a canteen and improving the building’s ambiance and dressing rooms.
Now there is a challenge for all parties concerned and what an opportunity for councils to prove they are willing to work for the betterment of the entire town and surrounding community.
In the event that council members and administrators of our two councils can’t get past their egos and are not willing to work for everyone in the area, then maybe a provincially-forced amalgamation of Windsor, West Hants and Hantsport may be the only sensible solution to resolve the dilemma.
We are not alone with service-sharing problems in the rural areas of Nova Scotia but now there is a real opportunity to show some leadership here in Hants County and get something done for the common good.
Looking for real people to step with a vision.