Port Colborne Council Approves Motion Calling for ‘Immediate Replacement’ of NPCA Board Members

Motion Also Calls for Local Municipalities To Appoint Members With Proper “Skillset” for Conservation to NPCA Board

A News Commentary from Doug Draper

Posted April 10th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s current CAO Mark Brickell fails to convince Port Colborne’s city council enough to defeat motion calling for sweeping out current NPCA board.

Niagara, Ontario – Following efforts by the NPCA’s CAO Mark Brickell to defend the Niagara Peninsula Conservative for its “effectiveness” and its “openness and transparency,” Port Colborne’s city council voted to approve a motion to have the NPCA’s board replaced with individuals appointed by local municipalities rather than the regional government.

The motion, tabled by Port Colborne city councillor Barbara Butters, will be circulated to other local councils in Niagara for consideration and reads as follows –

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.

Port Colborne city councilor Barbara Butters tabled motion calling for total overhaul of NPCA board and the way board members are appointed.

Brickell said he did not so much take issue with the motion’s call for local councils, rather than the regional council, appointing their own members to the board of the NPCA. He said his main beef was with , the premise of the motion as outlined in its “whereas” points.

“The whereas statements simply aren’t true,” he said, arguing  that the NPCA is one of the most open and effective public bodies of its kind in the province, and has done nothing that warrants losing the confidence of a host of public and private parities he says it serves.

Butters responded that her trust in the NPCA was shaken to a point of still being lost when, late last year, Brickell and other representatives of the NPCA, during a presentation then to the Port Colborne council, failed to simply accept the fact that a lawsuit it had pursued against Niagara area citizen Ed Smith had been dismissed by an Ontario court judge.

“You slammed Mr. Smith again,” charged Butters of attempts Brickell and other NPCA reps made last November to say there were parts of the judge’s ruling that somehow added up to a win for them.

“It was an attempt to actively subvert what (the judge) ruled,” Butters said, and it made her so angry she felt like “smashing (her) fist through a wall.”

In terms of the NPCA’s overtures about being open and trustworthy, Butters said the Conservation Authority has still not disclosed how much public money it spent firing or otherwise letting go a number of employees over the past few years – a disclosure recently called for in a motion passed by a majority of Niagara regional councillors.

Further to that, said Butters, the NPCA is continuing to spend public money on a lawsuit it launched last year against another former employee, Jocelyn Baker.

Brickell responded that he can handle criticism Butters and others level against NPCA management because “I am management (and) I have big shoulders.”

But Brickell went on to say that criticism of the NPCA “is unfair for our (rank and file) staff and their families,” he said, who continue to face negative headlines in the media about the Conservation Authority.

Niagara At Large will have more to say about whom and what is responsible for negative things the NPCA’s rank and file staff has to endure later.

Stay Tuned to Niagara At Large for more on the NPCA mess and related matters.

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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4 responses to “Port Colborne Council Approves Motion Calling for ‘Immediate Replacement’ of NPCA Board Members

  1. Thank You Councilor Butters as usual you are the one to take the necessary steps to right the sinking ship…..Amen

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  2. Thanks for the initiative Butters. You are a small shoot of hope. Well done Port Colborne.
    You are the one with big shoulders.

    Like

  3. Gail Benjafield

    My thanks too to Councillor Butters. Let’s see now when the mainstream media picks up on the ‘lawsuit’ using taxpayers money gets written. I am simply surprised and delighted the motion passed.

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  4. As one of the tiny group of residents who responded to the NPCAs invitation to participate in its Strategic Planning process last September, I can testify that the NPCAs consultant ignored all input into the present Strategic Plan from the public and environmentalists, and opted to make changes to address the concerns of developers and farmers. Period. And such changes as were made were all in the area of communications, rather than conservation. “Communications” is where an organization puts its efforts when it has lost public trust — and, contrary to the opinion of spin-masters, more “communications” is not the way to restore that trust. In fact, the only way to do that now is to clear away the dross and start over again, from scratch.

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