A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted March 1st, 2018 on Niagara At Large
A motion, tabled by St. Catharines regional councillor Brian Heit and backed by fellow St. Catharines regional councillor Kelly Edgars, to get to the bottom of how much more than two dozen staff buyouts over the past four years at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority has cost municipal taxpayers passed a the Region’s council this March 1st.
A few regional councillors, including Grimsby representative Tony Quirk, who also sit on the board of the NPCA, questioned some of the wording in the motion and attempted to pass it off as “a political cheap shot,” aimed at Conservation Authority they claim has become a convenient straw dog for some.
In reality, a number of municipal councils, including the council for the City of Hamilton, and several local councils in Niagara have passed motions over the passed year and a half, calling for a full audit of the NPCA’s operations. Among the items of concern members of these councils have raised is what appears to be an extraordinary number of departures of staff for reasons that know the individuals and have respected their work performance.
For your information, the Brian Heit/Edgar Kelly motion that passed this March 1st reads as follows –
Whereas a significant number of Niagara Residents and Local Area Municipal Councils have come forward and expressed concerns over the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s finances, operations, and business dealings;
Whereas a significant number of Niagara Residents continue to come forward and express concerns over the excessive retirement packages for former employees of the Region and our ABC’s;
Whereas the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority developed a Strategic Plan in 2014 to guide the organization in the future;
Whereas the 2014-2017 Strategic plan states the importance of Transparent Governance and Enhanced Accountability;
Whereas the Strategic Plan looked at a number of internal processes and staff changes to meet customer needs and deliver regulatory services;
Whereas in the past 4 years the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s restructuring has resulted in dozens of staff being fired, retiring, quitting, contracts not being extended, & or otherwise released;
Whereas a number of these employees have received retirement packages, severance packages, as well as damages at great public expense;
Whereas the Niagara Region contributes over 82% of the Municipal Levy to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority;
Whereas the majority of the NPCA Board members are also members of Regional Government;
Whereas the NPCA chair has stated his commitment to openness, accountability and transparency.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That Niagara Region REQUEST the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority submit the 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 costs associated with severance including but not limited to severances, wages paid, wages paid in lieu of notice, retirement packages, arbitration, personnel court cases, bonuses, and damages to Regional Council by June 6th, 2018.
Stay Tuned to Niagara At Large for more on this and related issues involving the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority later.
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