NPCA board’s decision not to reappoint Alberta Garofalo to community liaison committee comes in same week more front-line environmental staffers being fired out the door by NPCA’s management
“Now the NPCA is moving further away from what should be its mandate of environmental protection. Those in Niagara who love natural spaces and want to preserve habitat for our wildlife species are left without a voice. The NPCA board could have learned a great deal from Albert Garofalo if only it had listened.” – Joyce Sankey, conservation director, Niagara Falls Nature Club
A Brief Foreword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –
The purge of individuals, including more front-line staff and others, continues at a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority that has, for all intents and purposes, gone rogue with millions of dollars of our tax money.
Albert Garofalo, a well-known and respected citizen conservation and the kind of person walking in the spirit of the late Doug Elliott and Mel Swart, people who helped found a Conservation Authority in this region more than five decades ago, learned on the last week of this past September that he will not be re-appointed to a committee that is supposed to offer some input and advice from the larger community to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.
Garofalo had the respect and the support of a number of nature groups across the region for his desire to continue serving on the committee, but that didn’t seem to matter. The NPCA board, made up mostly of municipal councillors and mayors appointed by the Caslin administration at the regional government level, decided not to reappoint him anyway – a decision that fits into a narrative expressed by growing numbers of citizens, MPPs and the Ontario Public Services Employees Union representing some of what is left of the frontline workers at the NPCA, that this Conservation Authority is purging itself of individuals who place too much of a priority on conservation and environmental protection, and not enough on the interests of developers.
Mark Brickell, the NPCA’s CAO, recently countered that narrative with the following statement – “The public has demanded greater accountability, wiser financial stewardship, improved customer-service and better communications. The staffing changes made today (a reference to the date late this past September when eight more NPCA employees were let go) address these concerns while ensuring the delivery of our core mandate is strengthened.”
Apparently, the rest of us are supposed to be stupid enough to believe that.
Now here is a brief commentary by Joyce Sankey, the conservation director for the Niagara Falls Nature Club, on Albert Garofalo.
No Voice For Environmental Community On NPCA Committee
A Message from Joyce Sankey –
Way back in 2014, when the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) announced the creation of a Community Liaison Advisory Committee (CLAC), the three Niagara-based nature clubs were excited about having a voice to advise the politicians who run the NPCA.
We knew we needed a representative with deep knowledge of ecology and the environment. We needed someone who would not be afraid to speak out. The three nature clubs agreed that Albert Garofalo was our man and we wrote letters to nominate him. To illustrate why, here is a section of the letter that the Niagara Fall Nature Club submitted to the NPCA in 2014:
“Mr. Garofalo has given presentations to the club on various subjects including his salamander research and the Lake Erie Coast Project. Members of our club have accompanied him on his surveys of the Lake Erie Coast where we had the opportunity to benefit from his knowledge. He provided assistance to our survey teams when some members of our club volunteered on the NPCA’s Natural Areas Inventory. Several years ago he led us on an aster and goldenrod identification walk and he also worked with families at a Niagara Falls Nature Club – Follow That Frog – event which was held at Heartland Forest.
“Albert has a profound love of the environment and nature in Niagara. He expresses his ideas clearly and is always willing to give deep consideration to the issues.
“The mandate of the NPCA to preserve our land and water is important to the nature club. We know that Albert Garofalo would speak to those issues.”
During Albert’s time on the CLAC committee, the NPCA further changed its focus from protecting Niagara’s natural areas and environment to assisting developers. Albert spoke out. He was strong and truthful and knowledgeable. The committee was tilted against those who favoured environmental protection but Albert persisted in speaking out. It was made much more difficult because committee meetings kept getting cancelled.
Last June the environmental community was sent letters asking for nominations to the CLAC committee. Albert had indicated that he would like to serve another term and was told he would be considered if one of the groups nominated him. Albert was nominated by the Bert Miller Nature Club, the Niagara Falls Nature Club, the Peninsula Field Naturalists, the Hamilton Naturalists Club, Hawkwatch, The Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, Trout Unlimited, Friends of One Mile Creek and the Niagara Land Trust.
Another person, someone none of the environmentalists I have spoken to know, was chosen by the NPCA. The formerly named representative of environmental sector position has been renamed “representative of conservation sector.” The chair of the board of the NPCA, Sandy Annunziata, has said that conservation does not mean environmental protection.
Now the NPCA is moving further away from what should be its mandate of environmental protection. Those in Niagara who love natural spaces and want to preserve habitat for our wildlife species are left without a voice. The NPCA board could have learned a great deal from Albert Garofalo if only it had listened.
– Joyce Sankey
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 bi-national 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