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Windsor CAO says planned emergency access from Garlands Crossing ‘would be a gate to nowhere’

This photo, taken in March 2018, depicts the blocked off access point between Windsor’s Underwood Drive subdivision and Edward Drive, which leads into West Hants’ seniors development known as The Crossing. West Hants council is planning to install a locked emergency access gate to ensure residents have a safe way out of the area.
This photo, taken in March 2018, depicts the blocked off access point between Windsor’s Underwood Drive subdivision and Edward Drive, which leads into West Hants’ seniors development known as The Crossing. West Hants council is planning to install a locked emergency access gate to ensure residents have a safe way out of the area. - FILE

WINDSOR, N.S. – An emergency access gate that West Hants council is proposing to install to connect The Crossing development to Underwood Drive in Windsor would lead to a dead end, says the town’s chief administrative officer.

CAO Louis Coutinho raised the topic at Windsor’s recent committee of the whole meeting Dec. 11.

Coutinho said West Hants has “every right to build a gate there, but it would be a gate to nowhere,” adding that the end of Underwood Drive is essentially closed.

In 2015, Windsor town council made Underwood Drive a cul-du-sac and built a wooden fence to divide the counties.

West Hants council approved installing the gate at its meeting on the same night.

Council passed a motion that “for the benefit of the residents of Windsor and West Hants and for the safety of all the residents of Hants County…that the Municipality of West Hants recognize the connection of Underwood Drive in Windsor and Edward Drive, West Hants as an emergency access point and that an emergency access gate be installed on municipal land.”

All six West Hants councillors, who were at the meeting at the time of the vote, voted in favour of the motion. Four were absent for the vote.

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The gate would be locked, with keys given to the RCMP, fire departments, EHS and other first responders.

West Hants staff are also planning to draft a letter to the town and Hants West MLA Chuck Porter, notifying them of the municipality’s intention.

The motion previously said the gate would be funded through the operational reserves, but that was changed. It’s unknown how the municipality will pay for the gate at this time.

The gate is to be installed by the end of January 2019.

In an emailed statement, Windsor Mayor Anna Allen said she was disappointed by the news, saying, “I am disappointed that we didn't receive a phone call to sit down and discuss viable and permanent solutions to this matter.”

Allen said there are alternatives to allowing emergency access at that location.

“The solutions are spelled out in identical Subdivision Bylaws and Future Streets Plans that both councils adopted in 2014 to address this very issue,” she wrote.

Windsor council may discuss what to do about the situation at their next council meeting, which has been bumped ahead to Dec. 18, the last one of the year.

“At a time when we are moving towards consolidation as one regional municipality we should be sitting down at a round-table and talking about permanent solutions and not Band-aid solutions,” she added. “This is disappointing and I am not sure what a gate with locks does for the safety of the community."

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