Niagara-On-The-Lake Councillors Unanimously Support Call To Province For A Full, Forensic Audit Of Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Operations

This Tuesday, December 13, Public Eyes Turn To Niagara Falls City Council for A Vote on an NPCA Audit

A News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted December 12th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has joined the City of St. Catharines in calling on the provincial government to launch a thorough investigation and forensic audit of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.

St. Catharines/Niagara resident Ed Smith slapped with lawsuit threat from NPCA in wake of his efforts to get to the bottom of how the body is spending millions of dollars of our tax money. File photo by Doug Draper

St. Catharines/Niagara resident Ed Smith nas been slapped with lawsuit threat from NPCA. This December 12th, he took his call for a full and independent forensic audit of the Conservation Authority to Niagara-on-the-Lake town council.  File photo by Doug Draper

The town council’s support for a motion calling for a full probe of the NPCA was requested at this December 12th, by Michael Welsh who sits as chair of the town’s committee of adjustment, but told Niagara At Large in an interview earlier this December 12th that he is making a case for passage of the motion as a private citizen.

“I am coming forward as a private citizen,” added Welsh, a Niagara-on-the-Lake resident,” because I was quite disturbed that the Conservation Authority is going after Mr. Ed Smith legally.”

Welsh was referring to the recent threat that the NPCA’s board of directors, chaired by St. Catharines regional councillor, has made in a lawyer’s letter to threaten Smith, a St. Catharines/Niagara citizen for circulating a report raising concerns and questions about the NPCA’s operations, including its hiring, firing and contract tendering practices, in his quest for a full, independent audit of the body.

The legal threat the NPCA board has made against Smith, said Welsh, “is a chill for any citizen bringing forward questions about this Conservation Authority. … This was the straw that broke the back for me.”

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster took her call fpr an audit of NPCA to Niagara-on-the-Lake this December 12th. She has been demanding answers about NPCA operations for more than two years now and is continuing to press the Ontario government to "stop passing the buck" and make the Conservation Authority more accountable to the public.

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster took her call fpr an audit of NPCA to Niagara-on-the-Lake this December 12th. She has been demanding answers about NPCA operations for more than two years now and is continuing to press the Ontario government to “stop passing the buck” and make the Conservation Authority more accountable to the public.

The motion the Niagara-on-the-Lake council approved this December 12th  contains the same wording as one the St. Catharines unanimously passed this past December 5th and calls on the provincial government – most specifically Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry – to order the forensic audit. It does not ask the NPCA board for the audit, as does a motion passed this December 7th by the Township of Wainfleet council and its mayor, April Jeffs, who also sits as one of the Conservation Authority’s board members.

“I don’t trust the Conservation Authority to do the audit,” Welsh said. “It has to be the province.”

Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Lord Mayor, Pat Darte, along with Jeffs, is one of 11 regional polticians that sits on the 13-member Conservation Authority board and he declared a conflict of interest during the council’s discussion and vote on the motion.

In making a case to the council for supporting the forensic audit of the NPCA, Welsh was joined this December 12th by Smith and by Cindy Forster, the MPP for the Niagara riding of Welland, who made her own call on the Ontario government for an audit of the Conservation Authority this November.

Both Forster and Smith stressed the the audit is about forcing some transparency and accountability around a number of questions and concerns about NPCA operations that the Conservation Authority has been unwilling to answer to date.

Forster said the number of regional councilors sitting on the NPCA board is part of the problem. There should be more members of the public with an interest in conservation issues appointed to the board, she said.

This December 13th, a similar motion to the one passed by St. Catharines, and now by Niagara-on-the-Lake, will be going before Niagara Falls city council for a vote, and word has it that other municipal councils in the Niagara area will also be considering passing such a motion.

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority receives more than $7 million annually from Niagara’s 12 local municipalities and region, and growing numbers of citizens are demanding to know more about how that money is spent on staff, contracts the NPCA awards, land acquisitions and other matters.

Niagara At Large will continue posting up to date news and commentary on this issue and related matters involving regional governance and development proposals, including plans by a China-based development group to build on hundreds of acres of green lands known as the Thundering Waters Forest in the southwest end of Niagara Falls.

So stay tuned to NAL for more.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space provided after the Bernie Sanders quote below.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

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

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One response to “Niagara-On-The-Lake Councillors Unanimously Support Call To Province For A Full, Forensic Audit Of Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Operations

  1. So appreciative of a grateful to members of Niagara on the Lake Town Council for upholding the rights of the individual and the interests of all tax payers in the Region calling for a forensic audit of the NPCA. Well done!! Members of St Catharines and Niagara on the Lake Councils and MPP Cindy Forster clearly believe what a member of Niagara Falls Council states on all his outgoing emails, “Your elected representative owes you not only his/her committed time and effort…..they owe you their reason and judgement…..and they betray you instead of serving you, if they sacrifice it to the opinions of others”. All elected members would do well to pay attention to that quote.

    Like

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