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Making connections: Windsor, West Hants staff exploring ways to breach boundary lines, open up traffic options

This map, included in a West Hants planning document from September 2013, depicts several possible connections between Windsor and The Crossing land lease retirement community in Garlands Crossing. This was drawn up prior to the Edward Drive, Underwood Drive issue.
This map, included in a West Hants planning document from September 2013, depicts several possible connections between Windsor and The Crossing land lease retirement community in Garlands Crossing. This was drawn up prior to the Edward Drive, Underwood Drive issue. - Contributed
WINDSOR, N.S. —

Hants County motorists looking to shave a few minutes off of their commute into Windsor may have a few new options in the near future.

Windsor and West Hants employees are hard at work this summer reviewing previous future roads studies in hopes of coming up with solutions to better link the communities.

Martin Laycock, the chief administrative officer for West Hants, said in an interview that staff from both municipal units met in mid-June to begin exploring a permanent solution. That meeting came about due to the boundary issue at The Crossing retirement community.

At the heart of the concern was two concrete barricades blocking passage between Underwood Drive (in Windsor) and The Crossing’s Edward Drive, which is located in West Hants. The roads have never been connected. The barricades were installed June 1 as Windsor’s response to someone removing a portion of the town’s wooden fence that separated the roads. An emergency access gate had already been installed on West Hants’ side earlier in the year to allow fast access in case of an emergency. After mounting safety concerns over the concrete blocks, they were removed July 5. The road connection remains closed to traffic but can be accessed by first responders if the need arises.

That road issue is just one of many that Laycock said planning staff will be reviewing.

Laycock said they “had a great conversation” with Windsor’s staff back in June, which prompted him to approach West Hants council on July 9 requesting permission to jointly explore the options.

“We wanted to look at the future streets study and come up with and identify what the long-term solutions are, what the costs are, what the requirements are, and how to move forward with it,” said Laycock. Council gave the project its blessing.

“Now we can do the work and look at what are the actual practical applications of the recommendations within that study,” said Laycock.

“It’s a very complex document with a number of possibilities,” said Laycock.

While there have been several documents and studies over the years concerning how to link the two communities, the June 2013 Garlands Crossing/Windsor Border Area Transportation Study was among the most comprehensive. At 142 pages, the joint traffic study presented a number of options for councils to consider, including cost estimates and traffic flow suggestions.

This was a future streets plan developed in 2007 through the Isenor Study. It is known as Alternative A. - Contributed
This was a future streets plan developed in 2007 through the Isenor Study. It is known as Alternative A. - Contributed

 

In reviewing a future streets plan developed in 2007 through the Isenor Study, in 2013, the Griffin Transportation Group pitched several modifications. This one was for Alternative A. - Contributed
In reviewing a future streets plan developed in 2007 through the Isenor Study, in 2013, the Griffin Transportation Group pitched several modifications. This one was for Alternative A. - Contributed

 

FALL REPORT ANTICIPATED

Laycock said planning staff will present a recommendation report, which he says likely won’t be available until late fall.

Laycock said he’s hopeful the exercise will result in opportunities that can be explored once the units amalgamate in 2020.

“I think there’s always a way forward and I think that we will present solutions that council — the new regional municipality — will be able to at least consider,” said Laycock. “The idea is for council to have a better understanding of what is required to be able to move forward, rather than just the nuts and bolts of a study.”

Windsor’s interim CAO Todd Richard said he’s also optimistic they will find some common ground. He said the issue at The Crossing, which saw the barricades come down during his first week as CAO, has been temporarily solved. However, it’s an area that will need to be considered when they plot out connections.

“By no stretch of the imagination will Underwood Drive be opened up for permanent access in the short term until those future road plans are in place,” said Richard.

“Hopefully an access through to Cole Drive from Edward Drive and possibly the secondary access from Pazyant Drive through to King Street, would be our ideal, proposed plan,” he continued. “Once those two roads are open, then Underwood Drive, through to Edward Drive, would also be opened.”

He said that would be “a local road” and most of the access would go through the main roads.

Richard said Windsor’s planning department will be looking at all available options included in the future roads plan.

“Planning will have to come with estimates and give us some details and then a recommendation report will have to follow after that.”

POSSIBLE CONFLICT

West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian said he couldn’t speak to decisions pertaining to the Windsor and West Hants border issue due to a possible conflict of interest.

“Me and Coun. Francis own land that’s in that vicinity that may be construed as a conflict going down the road,” Zebian said in an interview following council’s last meeting in July. “So, we can’t foresee any future decisions so we’re playing it safe and whatever comes, comes.”

The land Zebian is referring to was purchased earlier this year near The Crossing development in West Hants.

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