Region Should Leave It To Local Municipalities To Appoint Board Members With Proper “Skillset” For Conservation To NPCA
Motion Is On The Table For Debate This Monday, April 9th When Port Colborne Council Meets At 6:30 P.M.
A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted April 9th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – This past November, Port Colborne’s city council was the first of a number of local councils across Niagara to call on the Ontario government to establish the powers to take control of a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) a majority on that council argued has demonstrated a lack of will and ability to carry out a conservation mandate in an effective, open and transparent manner.
This Monday, April 9th, the same Port Colborne council may be the first to call on Niagara’s regional government to turn to Niagara’s 12 local municipalities’ responsibilities for appointing members to the NPCA’s board of directors for the very same reason.
“Port Colborne City Council is aware of concerns in the community that the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) has demonstrated an inability to operate as an effective, open and transparent Conservation Authority, that respects its mandate,” says the motion expected to be tabled at Port Colborne council meeting by City Councillor Barbara Butters.
Niagara’s regional council has had the say in who sits on the NPCA’s 15-member board (save for the two members appointed by the council for Hamilton and one by the council for Haldimand County) since former Ontario government of Mike Harris downloaded that responsibility to municipalities two decades ago.
In the case of Niagara – one of the only regions in southern Ontario that still has two tiers of municipal government – that responsibility fell to the regional council.
So where has that left us now?
This has left us with a regional council, chaired by Al Caslin that has used that responsibility to appoint board members to stack the NPCA board with regional councillors and mayors friendly to Caslin’s agenda, rather than appoint members of the Niagara community with a demonstrated interest or expertise in the areas of conservation and environmental protection.
The result of all this manifests itself with one headline after another about this NPCA board using our tax money to go after a private citizen and a former employee with costly lawsuits, pay off staff it has shown out the door, shrink away for possible partnerships with other parties here and across the border to promote the health of the Niagara River watershed, and on and on.
So here’s hoping that Port Colborne city councillor Barbara Butters’ motion is tabled this April 9th and that it succeeds, despite the fact that the city’s mayor, John Maloney, now sits on the NPCA board, and Port Colborne’s one and only, directly elected regional councillor, David Barrick, holds a senior administrative position on the NPCA as its director of operations.
But then even if the motion succeeds and goes on to receive the approval of a majority of other local councils and even the regional council, an awful lot still depends on Niagara’s voters coming out en masse in this coming October’s municipal elections, and electing people to our municipal councils that truly care about protecting and conserving what are left of our wetlands, forested areas and other features of the region’s natural heritage.
That is where the recently launched and ongoing citizens campaign for a Better Niagara in this municipal election year comes in!
Here now is the full text of the motion Port Colborne city councillor Barbara Butters is scheduled to put before the council this April 9th. –
Motion (Councillor Butters) Re: Request the Region of Niagara to Immediately Replace Board Members and Establish Guidelines FD YD for the Future Recruitment of Board Members to the Niagara
Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA)
WHEREAS Port Colborne City Council is aware of concerns in the community that the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) has demonstrated an inability to operate as an effective, open and transparent Conservation Authority, that respects its mandate;
AND WHEREAS Port Colborne City Council has lost confidence in the current Board and management of the NPCA;
THEREFORE THE COUNCIL OF THE CORPORATION OF THE CITY OF PORT COLBORNE RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS:
That the City of Port Colborne requests that the Region of Niagara immediately replace board members of the NPCA with members selected by the lower tier municipalities; and
That the City of Port Colborne requests that the Region of Niagara establish guidelines for the recruitment, selection, and appointment of individuals to be in place during the next selection of NPCA board members; and
That the guidelines be developed with criteria that is based on skillset and be carried out by the lower tier municipalities.
To read a news commentary posted in Niagara At Large this past November on Port Colborne council’s call on the Ontario government to appoint a supervisor to take control of the NPCA mess, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2017/11/29/port-colborne-council-is-first-in-niagara-to-call-for-provincially-appointed-supervsisor-to-take-over-embattled-npca/ .
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