Niagara MPP Ramps Up Her Demand For An Audit Of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster Now Urges Ontario Natural Resources Minister To Order A Full Forensic Audit On Controversial Agency

By Doug Draper, reporter/publisher, NAL

Posted November 2nd, 2016 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – In the wake of growing public anger over a decision by a majority of Niagara regional councillors to approve hiring outgoing Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority CA) Carmen D’Angelo as the next CAO of the regional government, Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster is now urging Ontario’s Minister of Resources to order a full forensic audit of the NPCA’s operations.

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster in the Ontario legislature. File photo

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster in the Ontario legislature. File photo

The demand for a full forensic audit is contained in a letter Forster sent to the MNR Minister Kathryn McGarry this November 2nd and follows up an October 31st letter she sent to the minister, asking for an audit that would have been of a more garden variety, production of a financial statement nature.

A full forensic audit is employed to drilldown further to the core of the operations, and how a body’s finances (and in the case of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation, the finances amount to millions of public tax dollars) are being used or allegedly abused by those within an organization and other parties they may be doing business with.

“It’s been brought to my attention that a motion at a recent Niagara Regional Council meeting, requesting a financial audit of the NPCA, was defeated,” says Forster in her letter to the Ontario Natural Resources minister. “Given the alarm bells that many in my community have raised around the lack of financial transparency and given that $7.3 million in funding it receives are taxpayer dollars, I find this extremely troubling. As such, I urge you to launch an immediate forensic financial audit of the NPCA.”

What follows here is the full text of Cindy Forster’s letter to the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources.

And the letter is followed by a contact list that you and thousands of other people across this region should use NOW to support Cindy Forster’s demand for a full forensic audit of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. Please email (and if you want to do a little googling, find the phone number) those on the list and demand a full audit of this agency!

Now here is Cindy Forster’s letter –

To Hon. Kathryn McGarry, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

Dear Minister:

In follow up to two letters sent to your office early this year raising the issue of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority direction on local development proposals and the larger issue of biodiversity offsetting, I’m writing today to underscore the related concerns I raised in our phone conversation on Friday October 28th, 2016, regarding the lack of financial transparency and accountability within the NPCA. 

Outside of self-generated revenue, I understand that 48% of funding provided to conservation authorities comes through municipalities. Additional sources of funding for the authorities are provided by the provincial and federal governments (10% and 2% respectively). 

It’s been brought to my attention that a motion at a recent Niagara Regional Council meeting, requesting a financial audit of the NPCA, was defeated. Given the alarm bells that many in my community have raised around the lack of financial transparency and given that $7.3 million in funding it receives are taxpayer dollars, I find this extremely troubling. As such, I urge you to launch an immediate forensic financial audit of the NPCA.

Under the Ministry of Natural Resources’ (MNR) May 2010 directive, section 9.2 states that that MNR reserves the right to audit conservation authorities for adherence to these policies and procedures and to review their effectiveness as it relates to implementation of provincial policies and protection of provincial interests. Given the concerns brought to my attention, I am urging you to invoke this directive and launch a forensic financial audit immediately.

Minister, the effectiveness and the credibility of the organization, which I have addressed numerous times in the Legislature, appear to be at stake. As you know, the organization was founded not only by one of my predecessors, the former Mel Swart, but many others dedicated to the conservation of protected lands. We owe it to their hard work and to the community at large, to address these concerns.

I look forward to your timely response to this request and thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Kind regards,, Cindy Forster, MPP, Welland

An NPCA board meeting earlier this year. File photo by Doug Draper

An NPCA board meeting earlier this year. File photo by Doug Draper

Now here is the list of key individuals you can contact to follow up Cindy Forster’s demand for a full forensic audit. Please do your civic duty and use it!

Hon Kathryn McGarry,, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Suite 6630, 6th Floor, Whitney Block 99 Wellesley Street West Toronto, Ontario M7A 1W3 – email kmcgarry.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Dr Dianne Saxe Environmental Commissioner of Ontario , 1075 Bay Street, Suite 605,  Toronto, ON M5S 2B1, email: commissioner@eco.on.ca Web site https://eco.on.ca/

James J Bradley  St Catharine’s, Queen’s Park    Room 1304, Whitney Block, 99 Wellesley Street West  Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A4, jbradley.mpp@liberal.ola.org

James Bradley, MPP, Constituency   Unit 2, 2 Secord Drive  St. Catharines, Ontario L2N 1K8 , jbradley.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Niagara At Large will be following this post up later today and in the days ahead with more on this issue.

In the meantime and once again, please get engaged in this issue which involves nothing less than questions and concerns of millions of dollars of our tax dollars in this Niagara region – and the status of a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority that is supposed to be working for us to protect and preserve what is left of our region’s natural heritage!

Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.

NOW IT IS YOUR TURN. Niagara At Large encourages you to share your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote . A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who share their first and last name with them.

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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