In A Prepared Statement – New NPCA Chair Sets Tone for Conservation Authority’s Future

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster “stated that she has “heard from board members who say, ‘We’ve gone in a new direction to balance conservation with the economy.'”

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority's new Chair, Fort Erie regional councilor Sandy Annunziata

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s new Chair, Fort Erie regional councilor Sandy Annunziata

“I believe it is irresponsible for a member of the provincial legislature to marginalize the voices of other stakeholders. There are carpenters and trades people employed in the home building industry, skilled workers in manufacturing whose plant can’t expand, and farmers looking to maximize yields through expanding their land use.”

“MPP Forster is choosing to ignore their concerns and appears to listen only to those with an apparent singular agenda. In effect, she seems to be pandering to one special interest group, and only one. The NPCA will not do that.” – from a statement bye NPCA’s new Chair, Sandy Annunziata

A Statement fromSandy Annunziata, Fort Erie regional councillor and new chair of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Released by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and posted by Niagara At Large this January 23rd, 2017

Welland, Ontario  – I will always appreciate the opportunity to engage in thoughtful discussion with our partners.

We have many partners, and in my capacity as Chair of the NPCA, I will ensure their voices are heard.  

At its January 18th board meeting, Fort Erie regional councilor Sandy Annunziata took over as the NPCA's new chair, following a vote from board members, from former chair and St. Catharines regional councillor Bruce Timms, pictured here

At its January 18th board meeting, Fort Erie regional councilor Sandy Annunziata took over as the NPCA’s new chair, following a vote from board members, from former chair and St. Catharines regional councillor Bruce Timms, pictured here

The NPCA Board is composed of 15 members; six members are Mayors. I am proud of the work the Board and the insight all members bring. I am particularly proud to have Member Kaspersetz acclaimed as Vice-Chair. As a citizen appointee with a substantial background in Environmental Science, he will be a stalwart advocate for our Agricultural partners.  

Advocacy is important. It is the hallmark of political action, and I respect that. There will always be a degree of advocacy for projects, initiatives, and policy interpretation on behalf of the members of the Board. After all, that is the job of elected Municipal leaders – to push forward the issues that matter most to the communities they represent.

Advocacy does not translate into bypassing provincial policy, nor does it prevent oversight agencies like the NPCA from carrying out its mandate as conferred by provincial legislation.  

Advocacy will continue to be an important democratic right that all members of the NPCA use to bring issues of concern to the Board table from their respective municipalities. This allows us to engage our partners in thoughtful, respectful discussion to find common ground and solutions.  

Advocacy also means that we recognize that provincial policy is not always perfect. That is why there are debates in councils and legislatures across this great country.

There are times when circumstances will occur where local municipal leaders take issue with either federal, provincial, or regional policy. Part of the reason the province conducts policy reviews is to give stakeholders and commenting agencies with recognized status the opportunity to affect positive changes within the Acts. It is municipal partners that lead this charge on behalf of the citizens they represent.  

To be certain, the NPCA Board will continue to provide thoughtful responses to the province, and we will wait in anticipation what new changes, if any, will be a part of the Conservation Authorities Act. How these potential changes will impact our programs, budget, and mandate speak to our ability to adapt and evolve.  

Some have called for the Board to step down and be replaced by appointees confirmed by what appears to be someone else’s idea of better representation, rather than duly elected officials. I will not discuss the merits of those proposals.

If the Province of Ontario provides specific direction through policy changes about how Boards of Conservation Authorities are populated, then we’ll certainly respect that and abide by them. Until then, we will not fall prey to ideological arguments which contradict the Act.  

Furthermore, we strive to achieve balance by listening to all voices. However, at this time, one group appears to be drowning out all others.  We must ensure balance, and in my capacity, I will be steadfast in that goal – to bring fairness to and for everyone.  

MPP Forster stated that she has “heard from board members who say, ‘We’ve gone in a new direction to balance conservation with the economy.'” I believe it is irresponsible for a member of the provincial legislature to marginalize the voices of other stakeholders.

"My first act as Chair was to oversee the process that allowed MPP Forster an opportunity to speak," says NPCA chair Sandy Annunziata in his statement. This photo of the January 18th NPCA board meeting by Doug Draper

“My first act as Chair was to oversee the process that allowed MPP Forster an opportunity to speak,” says NPCA chair Sandy Annunziata in his statement. This photo of the January 18th NPCA board meeting by Doug Draper

There are carpenters and trades people employed in the home building industry, skilled workers in manufacturing whose plant can’t expand, and farmers looking to maximize yields through expanding their land use. MPP Forster is choosing to ignore their concerns and appears to listen only to those with an apparent singular agenda.

In effect, she seems to be pandering to one special interest group, and only one. The NPCA will not do that.  

I have continually expressed my desire to bring balance to our many partners. I stand by my conviction to listen to all their voices. My first act as Chair was to oversee the process that allowed MPP Forster an opportunity to speak.

I’m grateful the Board saw value in that decision. Every voice should be heard. At my very first opportunity in a very public forum, I extended my right as the Chair to work cooperatively with MPP Forster and all MPPs in the watershed.

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster speaks at January 18th NPCA board meeting. She has called for a full investigation and forensic audit of the NPCA's operation. She has also stressed that the NPCA should primarlily be a voice for conservation, not for developers

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster speaks at January 18th NPCA board meeting. She has called for a full investigation and forensic audit of the NPCA’s operation. She has also stressed that the NPCA should primarlily be a voice for conservation, not for developers

My first piece of legislative business was to vote in favour and ratify as Chair, a vote to conduct an independent, Phase 1 operational review and performance assessment from 2011-2016.  

I was disappointed that despite my efforts to enable more transparency, Ms. Forster chose to criticize that openly.  For the record, in my new role as Chair, and with all my leadership instincts, I am compelled to address that.

However, I would rather rise above the divisiveness that continues to come from this particular partisan MPP’s office and reemphasize my commitment to working with all our partners.   To that end, we will continue to listen, be responsive, and advocate on behalf of the residents, landowners, farmers, municipalities, conservationists, environmentalists, volunteers, home builders and every single group that endorses, questions or is affected by our policies.

We will manage those voices and expectations exclusively within the language of the Conservation Authorities Act.  

“To ensure a stable and prosperous economy, the government acknowledges that wetland conservation must be balanced with the environmental, economic & social needs of Ontario communities.” – Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) [Wetland Conservation in Ontario: A Discussion Paper- July 2016 (Pg. 3, 1.0 Introduction.)]  

It is clear; we have important work to do.”

– Sandy Annunziata, Regional Councilor, and NPCA Chair

Please share your views on the NPCA’ chair statement below.

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

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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9 responses to “In A Prepared Statement – New NPCA Chair Sets Tone for Conservation Authority’s Future

  1. Jobs for carpenters or anyone else has nothing to do with concern for the health of the ecosystem. There is lots of vacant or underused industrial space all over the Niagara Region that can be repurposed for job creating initiatives. Forget the buggy whip business folks and start thinking about the future and what is happening everywhere else.

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  2. Too many opportunities for “challenges” in that statement to know where to begin! The obvious one is that he is the Chair of a Board “appointed (arbitrarily) by the Regional Council. In the “Protocol” hierarchy Cindy Forster MPP outranks him. It was totally inappropriate for him to imply he allowed her to speak and even more inappropriate to rebuke her for representing the electorate! Furthermore – as a Chair he does not conduct “legislative business” – in case no one advised him – he is not a “legislator”. The NPCA does not have jurisdiction over “carpenters and trades people employed in the home building industry, skilled workers in manufacturing whose plant can’t expand” I’m sure Chair Caslin will remind him the Regional Council has the responsibility to look to the future of the economic growth in the Region.

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  3. Sheila Krekorian

    Second verse, same as the first.

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  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture: |One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen”.
    A couple questions re Board members using taxpayers’ money: (i) to hire a consultant to explain to need to make changes to the Act to the Provincial Government? Do the Board Members feel that they are incompetent to discuss issues with the government or did they feel they had a better chance to obtain the necessary changes if they used a lobbyist? (ii) to spend money to sue a resident who questions the decisions of the Board Members in their mandate to conserve the parkland?
    *I argue that a natural diamond is more valuable than a man made diamond/zircon. Likewise, a wetland area created over hundreds of years is more valuable than a man made wetland area.

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  5. Councilor Annunziata, Did you write the above article or was it written by the Home Builders Association…… and if not …….was it written with the authorization of the board??? Just Asking
    In my opinion;Your obvious sarcasm and lack of respect for MPP Cindy Forster in “YOUR” (I assume it is yours) ARTICLE above confirms my original assessment of you as an arrogant and illustrated ignorant wanna be.
    I was there when you were elected and listen intently as you spoke and never once did I hear you say the NPCA was a subsidiary of the Home Builders association? In fact you spoke of upholding the MANDATE and MISSION of the NPCA and that does include the ideology you speak of in this very obvious dictatorial rant. Hopefully your constituents will vote in the next and future elections for a person who not only makes promises but lives by those promises.

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  6. During this rant Chairman you continually speak in terms of “I” then further down into the rant it is turned to “WE” ??? Well what the hell is it “your” ranting or the Total Boards You yap about TRANSPARENCY PLease CLARIFY if it is JUST you or “ALL” the BOARD members.????

    Just asking??????

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  7. To be clear, the board of the NPCA should be addressing conservation issues, not developers’ wishes to expand sprawl onto protected areas. Yet another stupid person in a position of responsibility. This is so tiring, but I guess that’s the point; where down resistance until profit is the only determining factor for any government agency. To his credit, he didn’t hide, but came right out with his obvious contempt for conservation efforts and pro-development bias. A big thank-you to Cindy Forster for recognizing this garbage for what it is.

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  8. World News: Today in world news Kim Jong Un, supreme leader of North Korea, stated he has decided to start his own conservation authority. After a monthly Board meeting with his generals at 9:30 am North Korean Time (less protesters), they have concluded that it will be recognized as the NKCA, named after the renowned NPCA. Kim will be the CAO and a local developer will be the Chair with 14 other generals as board members. Although each authority is on opposite sides of the world their policies will be similar which include an imbalance between nature and development (more towards development), being partially open, semi-transparent and totally unaccountable. LOL

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  9. Do you think that the NKCA directors will readily promote biodiversity offsetting to keep up with the NPCA directors?

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