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Avon Region Citizens Coalition pleased to see county, town moving forward with municipal reform

Tom Calkin, of Falmouth, has long lobbied for municipal reform in Windsor and West Hants.
Tom Calkin, of Falmouth, has long lobbied for municipal reform in Windsor and West Hants. - Carole Morris-Underhill

FALMOUTH, N.S. — A long-time Falmouth resident, who was instrumental in launching a public-led petition to see Windsor and West Hants amalgamate, is pleased to see the two municipal units agreeing to work together.

Tom Calkin, a spokesman for ARC — the Avon Region Citizens Coalition - attended the joint council meeting July 19 and heard the news first hand that the two entities wanted to consolidate.

In a phone interview July 20, Calkin said ARC was surprised by the decision but pleased nonetheless.

Because of the past history of how this has proceeded, we were very surprised that they did this — but very pleased,” said Calkin.

ARC was formed by residents who wanted “cooperation and accountability” between Windsor and West Hants, and by those who were concerned with West Hants council seemingly not involving citizens in big decisions, like severing ties with the Windsor Fire Department.

By early 2016, ARC was ready to present an application to the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board for consideration. Windsor’s council of the day agreed with ARC’s desire to see better cooperation and signed the application while West Hants’ council overwhelmingly opposed any forced merger or exploration of such type of municipal reform.

The electorate spoke in the fall of 2016, replacing the majority of West Hants council. The two municipal units then signed a memorandum of understanding to try to work together and requested the UARB application be put on hold.

With Hants West MLA Chuck Porter being appointed as the minister of Municipal Affairs earlier this month, Calkin said area residents may finally see municipal reform.

If there’s ever a time that this can happen, right now is the time to do it,” said Calkin. “But, the province, under the able leadership of Minister Porter, has got to stand up to the plate. We believe he’s the person to do it.”

ARC’s application is still before the UARB and Calkin said it is supposed to be dealt with on Oct. 31, 2018.

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