Group pushing for amalgamation of duelling municipalities agrees to hold off, for now

The Avon Region Citizens group, which petitioned hard for the amalgamation of Windsor and West Hants, has agreed to give both sides the benefit of the doubt and suspend its efforts — but only for one year, just in case the relationship goes south again.

Windsor mayor says chair-throwing days are long over as town and municipality of West Hants sign MOU

Windsor Mayor Anna Allen says she still hears stories about how tense meetings could get between both councils. (Town of Windsor)

Windsor, N.S., Mayor Anna Allen knows all about the tantrums and bickering that once defined the town's hostile relationship with the neighbouring Municipality of the District of West Hants. 

"It was long before my time, but I still hear stories," said Allen.

"They used to fight in the chambers and throw chairs at each other. We don't throw chairs any more, I can tell you that."

Earlier this week, Allen and West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian buried the hatchet by signing a memorandum of understanding to stop fighting and start sharing services.

The Avon Region Citizens group, which petitioned hard for the amalgamation of Windsor and West Hants, has agreed to give both sides the benefit of the doubt and suspend its efforts — but only for one year, just in case the relationship goes south again.

Positive outlook

"We're very positive about this. We think it's wonderful that the communities are working together," said ARC chair Tom Calkin, who lives in Falmouth.

"If there had been the tone and the talk that is here now, the call for amalgamation wouldn't even have progressed."

Calkin headed up the petition, which gathered more than 2,400 signatures before it was submitted to the province's utility and review board.

It's not completely clear how the former feud began.

Fired up

However, West Hants's decision in 2015 to drop the Windsor fire service and create its own department brought long-simmering tensions between both councils to a boiling point.

Calkin said it takes about 20 minutes for fire trucks from the West Hants service to reach his home from more rural stations, despite the fact he's only minutes from the downtown Windsor fire station next to town hall. 

Calkin said his group looks forward to the newly united sides tackling issues like the fire service.

"It would be a shame for Windsor Fire Department not to be integrated into the whole picture here," he said. "It's a fine fire department."

1 year until review

ARC said it plans on conducting an in-depth review of the benefits of the two sides' new agreement in a year's time. 

At that point, the group will decide whether to proceed with its application to amalgamate. 

One thing is for sure — Calkin has no desire to see the municipalities revert to former bad habits.

"The old bickering that took place made us an unhappy place to move [to]," said Calkin.