We, the people, along with our municipal councils can begin the process of dissolving the NPCA now
A Brief One by Doug Draper, environment writer/publisher, Niagara At Large
Posted April 18th, 2017 on Niagara At Large
Over the past couple of years there has been much to do about the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and the concerns growing numbers of Niagara area residents and municipal councils have that all is not well with this body and the way it is going about business with millions of our tax dollars.
In the last year alone, we have witnessed the NPCA’s board of directors – a board stacked not with conservationists, but with regional councillors and mayors who may not see protecting and preserving what is left of our natural heritage as any more of a priority than sacrificing ever more of it to sprawling development – use some of the tax dollars the NPCA receives from local municipalities to sue a private citizen who has been lobbying for an independent audit of its operations.
We have witnessed some members of this board insult and smear Cindy Forster, a provincial member of parliament representing the Niagara riding of Welland, who has been among those leading the charge for more transparency and accountability from this board.
We have also witnessed this board verbally bully, then finally move to censure Lincoln regional councillor Bill Hodgson, respected for decades by so many of his constituents for his decency and dedication to public service, for whatever it decided he did wrong as a now former member of the NPCA board for fighting for a third party audit of this body.
And the list of matters that have raised the ire of Niagara residents and many local municipal councillors goes on and on – all while a push has continued to fix what so many of these same people believe is wrong with the NPCA.
But why bother? Why not simply move to dissolve the NPCA, which is something we can do right now under the Ontario Conservation Act governing the existence of Conservation Authorities across the province by convincing as few as two or three of Niagara’s 12 local municipal councils to vote in favour of its dissolution.
The conservation areas the NPCA is responsible for operating can be turned over to the province or local municipalities, or a combination of both, and the good NPCA field staff who are on the ground, looking after them, can be retained by the provincial and municipalities to continue that work.
As for the NPCA’s board and administration, simply get rid of them and save municipal tax payers millions of dollars that can be better used on other things, like public transit, long=term care services or filling pot holes.
NPCA and other Conservation Authorities across Ontario came into existence in the 1950s when good conservationists like the late Niagara resident Doug Elliott rightfully convinced the province that bodies were needed that served as a voice for protecting and preserving our natural spaces.
That was before the days of the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources that, in partnership with federal bodies like Environment Canada, are capable of playing that role now, and have a far clearer line of accountability to the public than Conservation Authorities which, in the case of the NPCA, it seems like there is hardly any level of government one can go to demand accountability.
But that doesn’t leave us completely out in the cold = not by a long shot.
Under the Ontario Conservation Act, we can approach our local municipal councils and urge them to vote to dissolve the NPCA, and we should move to begin that process as soon as possible.
In today’s Niagara region, this body no longer has any relevance. It is a waste of space and tax tax dollars and it can and should be dissolved..
More on this issue in the days ahead. Stay Tuned.
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