A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted May 23rd, 2018 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – Here’s some good news for people out there who are looking forward to seeing the back of Port Colborne regional councillor David Barrick when the votes are counted in this coming October’s municipal elections.
It has now been confirmed that Barrick, who also holds an administrative job at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), will be facing someone who promises to be a formidable opponent in those elections – a feisty Port Colborne city councillor, Barbara Butters.
Butters confirmed she will be taking a run for Port Colborne’s one and only directly elected seat on Niagara’s regional council in a message she posted on Facebook this May 22nd.
“I want to thank the people of Ward 4 in Port Colborne for 20 years of support,” said Butters on her Facebook site. “I would not be here without that support and it has been a privilege to serve you. I hope you will continue to support me in my campaign for Niagara Regional Councillor for Port Colborne.”
Butters may be best known in recent times by people across Niagara for a leading role she played on Port Colborne’s council in calling for action to address concerns many in the region have raised about the way the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority is being operated.
In November of last year, she was instrumental in getting the Port Colborne council to pass the first motion in in Niagara, calling on the Ontario government to appoint a special supervisor to take over operations at the NPCA.
At that November, 2017 city council meeting, before the motion she tabled was passed, Butters read a passage from an Ontario Court Judge, James Ramsay, who earlier that month, dismissed a lawsuit filed by the NPCA and its former CAO, now Niagara Region’s CAO Carmen D’Angelo, accusing St. Catharines citizen Ed Smith of defaming them with questions and concerns he raised about the way the NPCA is doing business.
“I share the defendant’s (Ed Smith’s) disappointment at his treatment by the Authority. A private citizen,” began the passage in the Judge’s ruling that Butters read “he (Smith) raised questions about the governance of the authority. He was met with a public accusation of forgery and the threat of litigation from “his own government,” as he put it, together with a demand that he issue a written apology, undertake never again to publish “the document” which contained many things that are not said to be actionable, and reveal his sources. There are many places in the world where I might expect such a thing to happen, but not in our beloved Dominion.”
Reading those words from the Judge about a body that should be serving the public and open to its questions and concerns “choked me up,” said Butters. “It brings me to tears.”
Shortly after Butters read those words, her motion calling on the Ontario government to bring in a supervisor to run the NPCA passed.
Then this past April, Butters, who several years ago sat on the NPCA herself, led the charge again in a motion the Port Colborne passed to clean out the current Conservation Authority board and replace it with individuals across the region with members selected by lower-tier municipalities in Niagara rather than the regional government.
Earlier this year, Butters was one of many municipal councillors in Niagara expressing opposition to the regional government’s continued questioning of the Town of Pelham’s financial affairs, calling it a “witch hunt.”
She also joined others on her council recently in blasting Barrick for using a flier he distributed with a Niagara Region logo on it to, in their view, praised the role he played in keeping the regional council’s finances under control while shedding Port Colborne’s finances in a negative light.
There have been growing expressions of discontent across Niagara with the current make-up of regional council, right up to and including the Region’s chair, Al Caslin.
That discontent has, among other things, inspired a number of citizens in the region to organize a group called ‘A Better Niagara’ to encourage individuals to run for seats on the Region’s council on a promise of “positive change.”
Niagara At Large will have more to report on Butters’ candidacy and that off others in the weeks ahead so please stay tuned.
For more information on the role Barbara Butters and other members of Port Colborne city council played in calling for change at the NPCA, click on the following Niagara At Large posts – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2018/04/09/port-colborne-council-motion-calls-for-clean-sweep-of-npca-board/ .
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