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West Hants hosting town halls on consolidation to address residents’ questions, concerns

West Hants councillors Debbie Francis and David Keith answered questions in Brooklyn during one of the municipality’s town hall meetings.
West Hants councillors Debbie Francis and David Keith answered questions in Brooklyn during one of the municipality’s town hall meetings. - Colin Chisholm

BROOKLYN, N.S. – Residents of West Hants will have a chance to ask their councillors directly what consolidation with the Town of Windsor could mean for them during a series of town hall meetings between now and the end of November, although more meetings will likely be scheduled beyond that.

A notice on the municipality’s website and Facebook page, says the town hall meetings are intended to give councillors a chance to speak directly with residents about what’s happening with Bill 55 as the two units get closer to becoming one unit in 2020.

The meetings are hosted by local councillors in their districts, although residents from across the municipality are welcome to attend any of the town halls.

In Brooklyn on Oct. 17, several councillors, including David Keith, Debbie Francis, Tanya Leopold, Kathy Monroe and Warden Abraham Zebian attended the town hall, fielding an array of questions ranging from what could happen to their tax rates to the multi-million-dollar sports facility planned for Windsor.

Questions at the Brooklyn Civic Centre during a recent town hall meeting on consolidation ranged from the tax rate to the multi-million-dollar sports facility being built in Windsor.
Questions at the Brooklyn Civic Centre during a recent town hall meeting on consolidation ranged from the tax rate to the multi-million-dollar sports facility being built in Windsor.

West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian said councillors agreed that it was important to get out into their communities to address citizen’s concerns.

No staff from the municipality or the province will be on hand to address questions.

This process has become law now (Bill 55) we have a little more information to share,” Zebian said.

Every councillor is dedicated to doing many town halls in their respective districts,” he said.

We’re hitting every single district of the county,” he added.

Zebian said residents are wondering whether or not the tax rates will change and if county residents will lose their sense of identity.

Councillors said, during the town hall, that tax rates can never be guaranteed. Those decisions are made during budget deliberations every year.

Those are the negatives, but we’re also getting some positive comments as well,” he said. “People understand that Nova Scotia needs to head in this direction.”

He’s hoping the town hall meetings will also dispel some of the rumours and mistruths about consolidation.

When you know the facts, the correct information, it shows this is the best way forward,” he said.

When asked if Windsor council would be holding similar town hall meetings, chief administrative officer Louis Coutinho said public engagement is definitely part of the plan.

The first meeting will be engaging the public in what regional government is about. That date has not been set,” Coutinho said in an email. “Following that meeting council has no schedule of meetings yet as there will be more information when the two councils meet with Department of Municipal Affairs on Oct. 29.”

Upcoming meetings

Remaining town hall schedule for West Hants residents:

Ardoise Hall – Oct. 24, 7 p.m.

Sweets Corner Hall – Oct. 25, 7 p.m.

Ellershouse Hall – Oct. 30, 6:30 p.m.

Avondale Hall – Nov. 1, 6:30 p.m.

Centre Burlington Hall – Nov. 6, 6:30 p.m.

Southwest Hants Fire Hall – Nov. 7, 6:30 p.m.

New Horizon Center – Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m.

Three Mile Plains Hall – Nov. 20, 6:30 p.m.

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