Nova Scotia

West Hants moves ahead to set up alternate fire service coverage

The Municipality of West Hants has voted to begin building a long-term solution to providing fire services to the area, following years of contract disputes with the Windsor Fire Department.

West Hants councillor Victor Swinamer resigns before vote

Windsor Fire Department and Municipality of West Hants agreed to mediation over a contract dispute 10 months ago, however there's still no deal. (CBC)

The Municipality of West Hants has voted to begin building a long-term solution to providing fire services to the area, following years of contract disputes with the Windsor Fire Department

Richard Dauphinee, the municipality's warden, and CAO Cathie Osborne told CBC News that West Hants council unanimously voted to move forward with new fire services agreements

"The Brooklyn fire department will run a fire station out of the Three Mile Plains area and the Hantsport fire department will support or run a substation out of the southwest Hants area," Osborne said. 

Osborne says council will borrow $3 million for new equipment and a two-year lease for a temporary substation.

The Brooklyn department will be able to extend its services because it has a surplus of volunteers, Dauphinee said.

Volunteers plentiful

"They have so many people wanting to volunteer, they don't have the equipment to equip them so we're buying equipment and they're going to be training people while they go through this scenario." 

West Hants and the Windsor Fire Department have been embroiled in a dispute for several years over payment for the service. The department said the Municipality of West Hants was behind in its payments while West Hants said the costs were excessive.

In May 2014, the Municipality of West Hants voted to end its 60-year agreement.

On Aug. 18, 2015, West Hants municipal council voted to prepare for a new fire service effective Oct. 23.

The Windsor Fire Department is not operated by Windsor, but by a society contracted to provide fire protection to Windsor and West Hants.

Councillor resigns

Monday's motion was passed despite being down two councillors. One hasn't been sworn in yet and another, Victor Swimaner, resigned as of 5 p.m. Monday. 

Victor Swinamer, during a debate at a July 2013 council meeting, voted in favour of continuing negotiations with Windsor Fire. 

Swinamer was found in conflict of interest by a lawyer appointed by Nova Scotia's attorney general who reviewed the Windsor fire services discussion. The lawyer published a confidential report in May, which was later obtained by CBC.

It stated Swinamer was in conflict because his son-in-law is Scott Burgess, Windsor's fire chief.

The report said Swinamer should have known his son-in-law had an "indirect pecuniary interest" in what was being discussed as the fire chief's salary was funded, in part, by West Hants. 

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