“I think that it’s very important that the old board just go away.” – St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik
A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted November 27th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
I know this may sound a little odd, but something about the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and its ‘when-in-hell-are-the-going-to-go-away’ board of directors reminds me of an apartment my wife and I rented many years ago while we were graduate students at the University of Windsor.
It was a nice apartment or at least it would have been, except for one thing other than the landlord. It was infested with cockroaches.
Have you ever tried to get rid of cockroaches?
You can swat hem with enough force to knock out a horse and, like the Energizer Bunny, they just keep going.
Short of spraying them with something as deadly as Strychnine or Agent Orange, it hardly seems to matter what eradication plan you put in play. They are right back the next night, mocking you with their presence.
And so it was this past November 21st – almost five weeks to the day that municipal elections swept a number of key members of the NPCA’s board out of their regional council seats – that this board had the audacity to meet again, less than a month before a newly sworn in Niagara regional council, in partnership with local councils across the region, finally gets the chance to green light what we hope will be a brand new board that gets back to what our Conservation Authority used to do – place conservation and environmental protection front and centre.
And little did we know what this lame duck or dead duck board of directors was cooking up at this November 21st meeting – a good portion of which was held behind closed doors.
It wasn’t until a few days later – on Friday, (November 23rd – that we finally found out what was cooking.
That was when the chair of the NPCA board, defeated Fort Erie regional councillor Sandy Annunziata, circulated to Niagara area municipalities a two-page memo on the board’s behalf, referring to some language in a 24-year-old Order in Council from the province that, in the board’s view, gives its members a right to stay in place until it has some final say in who gets to sit on the new board.
These people have got to kidding.
I’ve been covering news in this region going back to 1979, when I was first hired at The St. Catharines Standard, and I cannot remember any other group of municipal politicians– especially one where a good number of them had just been turfed out in an election – declaring an intention to hold on to authority, only days away from inaugural ceremonies for people we voted in to replace them.
What is this? A hijacking? Some sort of banana republic-like coup?
How arrogant. How disrespectful of the verdict rendered by voters in this October’s municipal elections can this rogues’ gallery get?
Thoughts of a hijacking had barely crossed my mind when, low and behold, Peter Gill, a retired Niagara Regional Police officer and who ran in the October elections, but didn’t quite draw enough votes to win a seat on the Region’s council, posted on social media another one of those photos he doctors up to make a point about some of the nonsense that has been going on at the regional government level.
This time Gill worked his magic on an image of the building in Welland where the NPCA has its headquarters, and he dressed it up with barbed wire and a caption that is spot on –
What Annunziata and the outgoing NPCA board are trying to pull here is shameful and outrageous in a number of ways.
Based on the memo and supporting material they circulated around, they apparently engage lawyers to exhume this 1994 Order in Council they claim give them some staying power. And now we apparently have lawyers at the Region working to find out if the authority they claim this Order in Council gives them has any merit.
As if this board hasn’t squandered enough of our tax dollars on legal fees for one escapade or another, including lawsuits they slapped against a former employee and a private citizen. Just look at the report Ontario’s Auditor General released on the NPCA this past September (a link to the report is posted below) to find out how much legal costs spiked under this board.
And finally, look at all of the time and attention these characters are continuing to take up when we, as communities of residents across Niagara, should be focusing more of our time on incoming councils, committees and boards and work they have to do in such areas as urban planning, job creation, environmental protection, affordable housing and public transit.
These characters have wasted enough of our money and time, and as St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik put it so well at a council meeting this November 26th; “I think that it’s very important that the old board just go away.”
Speaking of Sendzik and his St. Catharines council, they have already put in place a process for very openly inviting people in the community to enter their names as candidates to sit on a new NPCA board for the city. The process has been well advertised and the city appears to be taking enough time to find someone with some real knowledge and interest in the field of conservation.
How about other municipalities like Fort Erie, Wainfleet, Port Colborne, Pelham, Thorold, Niagara Falls and the rest? Have their councils put in place an open and fair process for finding the best person possible to sit on the NPCA board?
If you live in one of those municipalities and you are not sure what your council is doing about making sure the best person possible represents your community on the new board, you should call your city or town hall and ask.
The NPCA is an agency that is funded with millions of dollars of our money each year and has a very important role to play in protecting the health of our watersheds and conserving what is left of our natural heritage for present and future generations.
It is vital that we have the best people we can find sitting on that board.
To read related news and commentary on the antics of the outgoing NPCA board, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2018/11/26/defeated-npca-board-members-now-trying-to-call-shots-on-new-board-appointments-2/
For more, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2018/11/27/st-catharines-mayor-says-npca-board-has-got-to-go/ .
For a reminder or possibly for some of you, a first-time review of the way our Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority has been operated with millions of dollars of our money in recent years, click on the following link for a report on the NPCA, prepared and released this past September by Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk – http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/specialreports/specialreports/NPCA_en.pdf.
“If you step on people in this life, you’re going to come back as a cockroach.” – former American NFL player Willie Davis
NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.
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 .