A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted December 19th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – Three more municipal councils in Niagara – the council for Pelham this Monday, December 19th, and the ones for Welland and Thorold this Tuesday, December 20th – are expected to vote on motions calling on the Ontario government to launch a full investigation, including a forensic and/or value-for-dollar audit, of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s operations.
All of this continuing in the wake of Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster publicly calling on the province to investigate and audit theNPCA this November, then four municipal councils, beginning with St. Catharines this past December 5th, then Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colborne and the City of Hamilton’s council, calling on Premier Wynne and her government to thoroughly investigate and audit the NPCA’s operations.
Two other Niagara councils – in the Township of Wainfleet and City of Niagara Falls – also passed motions calling for a forensic audit of the NPCA, but those motions ask the NPCA’s board, rather than the province, to make arrangements to have an “independent” audit done of its operations.
The Wainfleet and Niagara Falls motions, whether by coincidence or by design, were supported by the mayors of both councils, whose mayors April Jeffs and Jim Diodati, respectively are among the 13 Niagara area municipal politicians sitting on the current NPCA board. They also fit neatly with a narrative that NPCA board chair and St. Catharines regional council delivered earlier this December when the St. Catharines council was in the process of passing its motion calling on the province to arrange the audit – that any call for an audit, stressed Timms, should be made directly to the NPCA.
Many Niagara area citizens, along with municipal councillors in the region, say they would have little or no confidence that an audit arranged for by the NPCA’s board would get to the bottom of questions and concerns citizens have raised about hiring and firings practices at the NPCA, about its recent practices when it comes to land deals, the awarding of consultant work and other matters involving expenditures of money it receives from municipal taxes and other public sources.
One of the first calls for a full forensic audit of the NPCA was made this past May by St. Catharines Ed Smith and was backed by numerous citizens who supported his appeal to Niagara’s regional council to arrange for such an audit.
But that early appeal for a full audit was turned down by a majority of regional councillors, several of whom site on the NPCA board.
And the way Smith was treated by a number of the councillors – among other things, he was accused of possibility making defamatory comments against Timms and others, and of delivering a presentation that was so full of falsehoods that one councillor, who also sits on the NPCA board, was successfully able to get enough support to have it stricken from the record – was disgraceful.
It goes down as one more example (an earlier example was the insulting way a presentation by the CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce was responded to) of how ill-tempered and disrespectful the current administration of regional council can be with a presenter if the boss hogs now dominating the council don’t happen to agree with what the presenter has to say, or would like to say, if he or she is even given a chance.
Fast forwarding to now and to the Pelham council scheduled to vote on a motion for a full audit of the NPCA this Monday, December 19th evening, and Welland and Thorold councils scheduled to vote on similar motions this Tuesday, December 20th (all three calling on the province to take charge), you can do what many other citizens across Niagara have already done – Google the websites for these three municipal councils, and obtain the contact information for those sitting on the councils so you can urge them to vote in favour of a full investigation and audit of the NPCA.
While you are at it, do a quick online search for contact information for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and urge her to launch a thorough investigation and forensic audit of this body – NOW!
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