Lest the Members of the NPCA’s New Board Forget …

It was groups of dedicated citizens, along with a handful of politicians across this Niagara region that fought for so long to get our Conservation Authority back. The board could respect their efforts by taking some urgent action!

A Brief Comment from one of those Niagara dedicated citizens, Robert Milenkoff, with a Forward from Niagara At Large reporter Doug Draper

Posted January 30th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

From Doug Draper –

Welland resident Robert Milenkoff, at left, during one of many citizens rallies outside of NPCA board meetings over the past three years. File photo by Doug Draper

Less than two months into their tenure as members of a new board of directors for the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), they are already losing the patience of citizens who have been fighting for three or more years now to get his public body back on track.

One can understand the loss of patience.

Attend any one of the three meetings this new board has held so far and where is any sense of urgency for getting this beleaguered body back to where it was in decades gone by when dedicated people like Andy Burt, Gord Harry and Douglas Elliot had a hand in fulfilling its conservation and environmental protection mission?

Where is any passion for returning the NPCA back to what a conservation agency could and should be?

This new board has not yet shown the citizens who fought so hard over the past three or four years to get this agency back or track, and as recently as this past December, going to the Ontario courts to help secure this board a first meeting, the simple courtesy of agreeing to go back to holding meetings in the evening when it is easier for members of the public to attend.

NPCA’s new board, way up there on the other side of the rope line, while members of the public sit on the other side with one hell of a lot of space between them.

Never mind anyone on this board – not even at the head of what was supposed to be the NPCA’s Annual General Meeting earlier this January – offering up a vision statement for the future that might be the least bit inspiring or be the least bit reassuring to all those who fought so hard over the past years to get an NPCA it can be proud of back.

Instead, we are treated to some fumbling lines from the new board chair and West Lincoln mayor, Dave Bylsma, asking for the public’s patience while he works his way through what he described at a January 23rd meeting as “six or seven years” of information “swelling and swirling around in (his) head.”

While Bylsma is working to cope with whatever is swelling his head, a bond between the new board and what NPCA administrators there now are – David Barrick, Krystle Caputo and Michael Reles, and whoever else is still around – appears to be growing, even as public patience grows more and more thin.

So I thought it fitting to reprise a comment that Niagara At Large received that is like so many others I have heard and read in recent weeks about the NPCA and this new board.

This comment was a response to a commentary I posted this January 29th about the lethargy of the new NPCA board, and it was sent in by Robert Milenkoff, a Niagara resident who is one of so many who has fought so hard to see this Conservation Authority turned around, only to get the nowhere land where we are today.

NPCA’s new board chair Dave Bylsma working to cope with all of the information “swelling” his mind while administrative staffers Krystle Caputo, right) and David Barrick look on.

There are many lessons to be learned from all of this, not least of which is that it is a mistake to count on a group of politicians to solve problems for us. It takes citizens getting organized and putting the pressure on to get the job done.

Niagara At Large will have more to say on that a little later. Stay tuned.

For now, here is Robert Milenkoff’s comment –

“A dedicated group of residents in Niagara along with a number of concerned politicians fought for over two years to have an independent arm’s length audit completed on the NPCA.

Last September the Auditor General released a 102 page scathing report on their operations.

The previous board has been swept clean except for a few and so I ask the new board what else can we do for you because we are becoming impatient with the progress that is taking place and we might just have to start all over again.

Last October (in Niagara’s municipal elections) is a good example of what can happen.”

-Robert Milenkoff

To read Doug Draper’s most recent commentary on the ongoing mess that is the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2019/01/30/new-npca-board-moving-at-less-than-a-snails-pace-to-address-agencys-problems/ .

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 .

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

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