Why are we consolidating?
Consolidation is about much more than tax rates going up or down. It is about the Hants West region having the ability to reinvent itself and move forward as a stronger region.
We have so many great things happening in our area such as the twinning of Highway 101, new sports complexes, world class festivals, new developments, revival of the Windsor downtown and waterfront area, incredible trails and roots strong in history and tradition. The potential for the future of our region is endless.
This consolidation will eliminate the red tape that exists between our two competing municipal units, create a unified vision for growth and development while creating efficiencies by reducing duplication of services and resources.
The Council of the new Regional Municipality will be unified with a focused approach to making decisions for our entire region.
What is the process?
The first step was for the Town of Windsor and the Municipality of the District of West Hants to pass motions agreeing to enter into negotiations to voluntarily consolidate the two municipalities through legislation. These motions were passed in July 2018. We then approached the Provincial Government requesting legislation that would allow the consolidation process to proceed.
The special legislation, or Bill 55, passed in October 2018. The legislation addresses transitional matters and allows for the voluntary consolidation of our two communities. It outlines: the appointment of a Co-ordinator and establishment of a Co-ordinating Committee and the responsibilities of each.
Our Co-ordinator, Kevin Latimer, was hired in December 2018 and the Co-ordinating Committee was formed. The Committee has begun the complex work of bringing our two municipalities together. Matters which require research will need to be identified and studies will be completed in various areas.
Who sits on the Co-ordinating Committee?
The Co-ordinating Committee consists of the Co-ordinator, Kevin Latimer, the Mayor, Anna Allen, and Deputy Mayor, Laurie Murley, of the Town and the Warden, Abraham Zebian, and Deputy Warden, Paul Morton, of the Municipality.
What is the role of the Windsor and West Hants Councils in the transition process?
The Co-ordinating Committee is ultimately responsible for leading the transition position however, the Councils have developed guiding principles that will help the Transition Committee make decisions about the new Regional Municipality. These guiding principles can be found here.
When will the consolidation be complete?
The consolidation will be complete by April 2020.
Why will it take to April 2020 to complete the consolidation?
The joining of the two communities is a complex undertaking. There is a lot of work to be done including studies around human resources, infrastructure, amoung others.
What level of funding will the Province provide toward this consolidation?
The Province has committed to $1.5 million for transition funding and is considering further financial support as needs are identified. The Co-ordinating Committee has been tasked with establishing a plan for funding.
What will the funding be spent on?
It will be spent on establishing the Co-ordinator and Co-ordinating Committee and any reports that are required to guide the consolidation of the new region, such as the Governance Study. The funding will also be used to join the operations of the two municipal units.
I have heard some residents claiming consolidation has been forced on them. Is that true?
No. We are making our own decisions about consolidation and are demonstrating leadership in making decisions which we feel are in the best interests of all residents of both municipalities. Both the Town and the Municipality passed motions asking the Province to pass legislation.
Will residents be consulted during the transition process?
Yes. Public engagement has been identified as a guiding principle throughout this process and the Co-ordinating Committee is committed to ensuring that the residents of both municipal units are able to help shape our new Regional Municipality.
What is the difference between the term consolidation, amalgamation and dissolution?
There is no difference between a consolidation and an amalgamation. Both words mean the combination of two or more political or administrative entities, in this case the Town and the Municipality, into a single entity. Through consolidation, both municipal units surrender their charters and cease to exist. The assets of both of those units are then consolidated into a new municipal unit.
A dissolution on the other had is when a municipal unit surrenders its charter and ceases to exit. In a dissolution the assets of the dissolving unit are then absorbed into a neighbouring unit that is willing to accept them.
What will the tax structure look like under the new Regional Municipality?
The following principle has been adopted by the Coordinating Committee and guides decision making in relation to the development of a tax structure
Principle #2: “When developing a taxation model for the consolidated community, the existing tax system should serve as a base. Business as usual, services as usual. The electoral boundaries should not impact taxation.”
It is anticipated that a tiered tax system will be implemented reflecting a structure that will include a base charge reflective of the universal services and costs shared by all residents and businesses and additional charges will be added to reflect the added services or heightened services received by residents and business in defined areas. Examples: Current Town of Windsor residents and businesses benefiting from the provision of sidewalks and heightened snow removal will have a tax bill displaying added charges.
Will we lose our identity?
No, we should not. Through the consolidation process, the charters of both the Municipality and the Town will be dissolved but the communities in our regions will remain. Windsor will still be Windsor, Brooklyn will still be Brooklyn, Falmouth will still be Falmouth, Summerville will still be Summerville, so too will every other community in our beautiful area. No community will lose its identity.
Will the rural areas lose their voice?
The rural areas in West Hants are our backbone and consist of some of our most engaged residents. Council has committed to ensuring the needs of our rural residents are addressed through the recent creation of the Rural Representation Committee comprising of three councillors of the municipality and four residents from the rural area.
What building will host the new Regional Municipality?
It is anticipated that a single space will be used to host the new Regional Municipality. The two largest municipal complexes, Windsor Town Hall and West Hants Municipal Complex, are being evaluated to determine their individual capacity to host consolidated operations. A design / engineering firm has been assigned to assess the buildings and to provide comments on the capacity of each building and the building’s capacity to host the specific office related needs for staff, Council and for the accommodation of the general public. Items such as current building energy performance, accessibility, structural adaptability, parking, renovation costs are a few which will be evaluated.
Customer service and staff functionality will be a key principle influencing the design options that will be provided for both buildings. It is not anticipated that a building will be renovated by April 1, 2020. Interim plans will be developed and communications provided to the public over the coming months regarding what residents can expect April 1st 2020.
Where will the office of the CAO be located and how can I contact the CAO?
CAO, Mark Phillips will be sharing space between the Windsor and West Hants Municipal Complexes between November 2019 and April 2020. When a single site is selected the CAO will be situated in that location (the current West Hants or Windsor Municipal Complex).
Chief Administrative Officer
The Region of Windsor and West Hants Municipality
100 King Street , Windsor, NS, B0N2T0
T 902-798-8391 Ext. 133
What does the staff structure look like under the new Regional Municipality?
The following principle has been adopted by the Coordinating Committee and guides decision making in relation to the organization’s staff structure and employees. “When developing the blended administrative structure of the consolidated community, all efforts should be taken to ensure there is no job loss as a result of the consolidation. Any planned efficiencies should strive to be achieved through attrition and maintaining corporate knowledge should be prioritized.”
The new leadership team for the Region of Windsor and West Hants Municipality has been selected and is as follows:
Director of Public Works, Todd Richard
Director of Financial Services, Carlee Rochon
Director of Community Development, Kathy Kehoe
Director of Planning and Development, Madelyn LeMay
The new leadership team will officially take effect on April 1, 2020.
The following is the org chart for the new Regional Municipality.
As the organizational structure is finalized staff will be placed into their position of choice or the position they were selected for. Staff structure and the new organizational structure will be fully implemented on April 1, 2020.
Residents and business can be assured that service level continuity is a top priority during the change period. Please continue to contact the same staff and communications channels for enquiries you are accustomed to for support.
Will there be a single website for the new Regional Municipality?
There will be a new website for the new Regional Municipality. Staff are working on compiling the information contained on both the Municipality's and the Town's websites and will be launching the consolidated website on April 1st. Stay tuned for more information.
Will the RCMP service for Windsor and West Hants change?
The RCMP will continue to be the policing service provider for the Region.
As with the municipal consolidation of operations the RCMP are proposing operational changes to improve efficiencies and to maximize service delivery. At the current time RCMP resource allocation is not anticipated to change. Detachment Head Quarters, the Leadership Team and the Coordinating Committee continue to discuss items such as detachment location, policing geographic priorities and modernizing community safety strategies. Residents, businesses and visitors are assured community safety and “calls for service” will not be interrupted during the transitional process.
Will there be changes to the fire services currently provided to Windsor and West Hants?
Residents, businesses and visitors are assured community fire services will not be interrupted during the transitional process. A study is currently being conducted, with feedback from the various Fire Departments servicing the region, comprised of three (3) major components:
Part 1: Emergency Response
Part 2: Governance and Organizational Structure
Part 3: Administration and Program Implementation
The report is expected for review by the Coordinating Committee in December 2019.
Will the new region be prepared to respond and coordinate emergency services (EMO) should there be an event?
Residents, businesses and visitors are assured EMO related services will not be interrupted during the transitional process.
Staff and emergency response officials from both Windsor and West Hants continue to occupy the assigned positions within the EMO structure as required by the Regional Emergency Response Plans. In addition the same principles and components of EMO related events apply such as residents being prepared for the first 72hrs of an event, prepared comfort centers, equipment readiness and ongoing training and exercises.
How will I register or find information on my traditional recreation programs offered by Windsor and/or West Hants?
Traditionally, Windsor & West Hants Recreation Departments would have planned, advertised and implemented recreation programs separately. In 2019 the West Hants Parks & Recreation Department launched an online registration process to create an improved user experience with great success. Moving forward, we will be streamlining the process to include registrations for all programs with a planned rollout in April 2020.
Staff are in the process of developing one Facebook page and website content that will direct community members to online registration. To better serve our community we will also work with organizations and individuals to complete the registration process in person.
Will the Windsor and West Hants Planning and Development Departments be combined?
Our Planning and Development Departments were actually combined as of April 1, 2019, this past spring. This was done as Windsor had only one staff person working in development control with the remainder of planning and development services being provided through a contract with the Town of Wolfville. With the contract with the Wolfville ending on March 31, 2019 it was a good opportunity to combine the departments.
Windsor also hired a new Building/Fire Official this spring who works out of the combined department office primarily located in the West Hants municipal office at 76 Morison Drive.
How will planning processes be affected/carried over to the new Regional Municipality?
There will be little affect to the planning processes throughout this process as each Council has agreed to continue to consider applications for development agreements, development agreement amendments and amendments to the various Municipal Planning Strategies and Land Use By-laws. The Coordinating Committee has recommend that Regional Council accept the work done by individual Councils regarding applications so that work done for any process will not need to be repeated after April 1, 2020.
Development and building permit applications will continue to be received and permits issued in the same manner as they have been and there is no change to fire inspection services as the inspections are currently carried out by our joint staff.
Will my traditional services related to roads/snow removal and infrastructure change in the short term?
There is no expectation that service levels will change for any maintenance activities and or snow / ice control. Municipality owned streets will continue to be maintained with municipal staff and equipment and Provincial roads will continue to be maintained with provincial resources.
Will staff from both the Windsor and West Hants Public Works and Utilitybe working together and sharing resources?
Yes, Windsor and West Hants Public Works and Utility staff will be pooling resources and working together throughout the region. The plan will be to have staff capable and able to operate equipment and systems from both previous organizations working together as a collaborative team.
If we are not hearing information about what is happening with the consolidation, who should we contact?
Our region is very large. We are fortunate that many of our districts have reliable Internet, postal service, cell service, etc. but others do not. We continue to strive to discover the best mix of methods that ensures the message is delivered in the most efficient and effective way possible.
We are using this website, StrongerRegion.ca, along with our municipal sites, Facebook and Twitter to post information, and have been holding meetings in our communities to provide the opportunity for residents to discuss concerns and ask questions about the consolidation.
How do I get information if I live in an area where my Internet access is spotty?