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Windsor council holding in-camera meeting to discuss hockey heritage arena

<p lang="en-US">The newly sworn in Windsor town council pose for a photo following the ceremony on Oct. 25, 2016. Pictured are, from left, Laurie Murley, John Bregante, Mayor Anna Allen, Shelley Bibby, and Jim Ivey.</p>
Windsor council discussed the proposed hockey heritage arena. - File

WINDSOR, N.S. — Members of Windsor town council are meeting tonight to discuss, in private, the municipal corporation set up to establish a hockey heritage arena in Hants County. 

This is being done before meeting publicly with West Hants, in a proposed special joint council meeting that hasn’t officially been set, to clarify Windsor council’s position on the arena, councillors said during a committee of the whole meeting on Dec. 12, 2017. 

Windsor Mayor Anna Allen proposed meeting in camera first in order to figure things out internally before debating things publicly. 

Allen said the feasibility study has done nothing to advance the hockey heritage arena proposal thus far, adding that it has only divided the community even further.

“For us to go to the public and holler about that, it’ll simply divide the community even further,” she said. “Nothing will get done.” 

The mayor said she thinks it's necessary to meet with West Hants council to move the project forward. 

“Right now we have an agreement between the two units, which warrants going in camera because that agreement may be broken, may be changed, and you don’t do that in public,” she said.

Allen was referring the municipal corporation that was initially struck as a basis to establish a hockey heritage centre at Long Pond.

Allen said she’d also like an opportunity to talk to her fellow members of council and other stakeholders to see where everyone sits on what project they’d like to see move forward.

“We have not had the opportunity to sit down as a council and talk about hockey heritage and our future,” she said.

“I’m prepared to go to the public once we’ve had our common sense meeting,” she said.

Allen added that “it’s now or never” to get the arena project moving forward. 

More articles on the proposed hockey heritage arena:

Chief administrative officer Louis Coutinho said during the committee of the whole meeting that the discussions would best be held during a private setting.

“Meet to discuss the process we’re going to use to discuss this (feasibility) report, because otherwise we’re going to get into this kind of discussion, putting things out there and you are going to have everybody on Facebook having their own opinion and surveys coming out,” Coutinho said. “We’re just going to divide the community more than we should be.” 

In the end council agreed to have an in camera discussion about the municipal corporation that was established to build a hockey heritage arena at Long Pond, which included King’s-Edgehill School as a stakeholder — an entity that has since withdrawn financial support.

They also agreed to hold a special joint council meeting to discuss the feasibility study and hockey heritage arena proposals, but want some advance notice or input on the agenda. 

Arena timeline

Coutinho also clarified the timeline of the proposed arena, saying that both councils need to come to a decision by April 1, 2018. 

"At this time, the proposal submitted for a museum/arena located at the Long Pond site is the proposal which has been approved with conditions for $3 million of provincial funding,” Coutinho said in a follow-up email. 

“The province wants to know whether the Hockey Heritage Project as submitted, is still being pursued by the municipalities,” he said.

"That it is up to our respective councils to find a way to resolve this political dilemma and move the submitted proposal or some other variation forward in a fashion that is Build Canada (Fund) eligible in advance of the April 1, 2018 timeline," he said.

That means both councils need to have some form of proposal to bring forward to the provincial and federal governments by April 1, 2018 or the entire endeavour could be delayed indefinitely. 

Windsor council’s original proposal for discussions of the feasibility study with West Hants was to establish a sub-committee with West Hants, which would have been comprised of Windsor’s mayor, two councillors, the CAO and West Hants’ warden, two councillors and the CAO. 

West Hants disagreed with this concept, proposing a public joint council session instead. 

Members of Windsor council also said they want a presentation from the consultant that worked on the feasibility study, adding that many questions remain unanswered. 

Deputy Mayor Laurie Murley said she has quite a few questions stemming from the feasibility study.

“I need more clarity on points that were made. I need those various bullets or points from the individual proposals to be weighted to some degree,” she said. “I can only get those answers by speaking to the consultant.”

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