A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted April 4th, 2017 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – Yet another municipal council in the region is urging the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority to accept an offer from the Ontario Auditor General’s Office to do an independent probe of its financial operations.
This April 4th, Thorold’s city council joined St. Catharines’ council and others in pressing the NPCA’s board of directors to accept an offer made by Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk this past January to perform the full and independent audit so many Niagara and Hamilton area citizens and municipal councillors have been wanting now for months.
The offer by Lysik is “a fabulous opportunity” to have a “third party audit” done on the NPCA, Thorold regional councillor Henry D’Angela said during a presentation he made to Thorold city councillors at their weekly council meeting this April 4th. It is an offer for an audit that will not pose a cost to Niagara area ratepayers directly through their property taxes, he added, and “it will go a long way to re-establishing confidence” in the Conservation Authority.
Thorold council passed a motion unanimously to have the Ontario Auditor General do the audit, just as it, along with several other local councils, passed motions late this past year, calling on Ontario’s Premier, Kathleen Wynne, and the province’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Kathryn McGarry, to have the province undertake a full audit and investigation of questions and concerns members of the public have raised about the NPCA’s hiring and firing practices, its awarding of contracts to other parties, and a host of other matters involving the expenditures of large sums of public tax dollars.
Thorold’s council also joined this April 4th in supporting a motion first passed by Pelham’s town council to change the way individuals are appointed to the NPCA’s board of directors, allowing local municipalities rather than the regional government to seek out individuals who have knowledge and skills in conservation and other relevant areas to sit on the board.
The way the process now works, Niagara’s regional government has a strong hand in making the appointments and 11 out of the 15 individuals currently sitting on the board also sit on regional council. Thorold is the only Niagara municipality with a representative on the board who is a private citizens.
Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster, St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley and other MPPs in Niagara and the Hamilton area have also recently called for the Ontario Auditor General to do an audit on the NPCA and Forster has argued in the provincial legislature for a change in the way board members are chosen.
Are you listening to any of this at all Premier Wynne?
Why don’t you finally go even further and use the powers that you have to appoint a supervisor to go into the NPCA and sweep out the current board and upper management, and begin the process of finding new managers and board members who can restore public trust.
If you can use whatever powers you have to tell the mayor of Toronto, John Tory, that you are not going to allow him to install tolls on roads that are owned by the city, surely you can use your powers to appoint a supervisor in response to concerns about the NPCA expressed by municipal councils in Niagara and Hamilton, collectively representing more than half a million people.
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