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.
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.
The consolidation will be complete by April 2020.
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.
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.
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.
We have developed a principle to guide this aspect of the consolidation. When developing the blended administrative structure of the new Regional Government all efforts will be made to ensure that there is no job loss as a result of the consolidation. We will strive for any planned efficiencies to be achieved through attrition and skill training.
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.
There are many varied interests at play, however, residents are supportive.
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.
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.
There is no difference. They mean the same thing.
Through a dissolution, a municipal unit surrenders its charter and ceases to exist. The assets of the dissolving unit are then absorbed into a neighbouring municipal unit that is willing to accept them.
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.
Tax rates are set each year by Council and are based on services that residents receive. A decision on the tax rate for the new Regional Municipality will be made by the new Regional Council. The consolidation process itself will not increase the tax rate.
Currently residents pay a residential tax rate based on their property assessment. Included in this rate are costs for policing, schools and the education system, corrections and prisons, and garbage/recycling.
In some communities in West Hants, residents pay an area rate for such things as sidewalks, street lights and snow removal which is included in their tax bill. There are also associated costs for residents who use town/municipal water and sewer. Residents who do not directly receive these services do not pay for them.
In the Town of Windsor the residential tax rate includes 100% of streets/road and sidewalk maintenance, snow operations, street lighting, policing, fire services, education system, corrections, and prisons, solid waste management including composting, recreations services, sewer services amongst the services delivered.
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 municipal unit will be unified with a focused approach to making decisions for our entire region.
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 the debt burden of the two units is paid moving forward will be a decision of the new Regional Council. It is anticipated that the debts will remain with each municipal unit.
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.
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.