At David Barrick’s NPCA, ‘Money-Centred Business’ Trumped Conservation Goals

A Brief Commentary from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper (with a little help from our good readers)

Posted February 22nd, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Public response grows to news of David Barrick’s exit from the problem-plagued Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

In the wake of news this February 21st that David Barrick, one of the most controversial characters in an ongoing nightmare around affairs at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), has made his exist as the public agency’s acting or interim CAO, many citizens across Niagara were quick to say they are pleased to see him go.

Many citizens say they also want to know how much of our municipal tax dollars Barrick may have received in what has been called by West Lincoln Mayor and NPCA board chair Dave Bylsma as a “mutual separation agreement” between lawyers for Barrick and the Conservation Authority.

And fair warning to Bylsma and the 11 other Niagara regional councillors and mayors on the NPCA board. The clear message we at Niagara At Large are getting is that many citizens are not taking word that the cost of the agreement with Barrick cannot be disclosed for an answer.

The public demand for disclosure of how much this settlement has cost area taxpayers, we predict, is only going to grow.


Because this isn’t a private corporation we are talking about here. The NPCA is a public agency, financed with millions of our tax dollars, and when it comes to how those dollars are spent, the principle at work here could not be more fundamental. The public has every right to know.

In the meantime, reaction to the news of Barrick’s exit from the NPCA continue to come our way, including this one from Liz Benneian, executive director of A Better Niagara, a region-wide citizens network that has been keeping a critical eye on the goings-on at the Conservation Authority –

Liz Benneian, executive director of the citizens group, A Better Niagara

“With Barrick gone,” said Benneian, “there is now a possibility to rebuild the Conservation Authority. The new board took many positive actions at their board meeting on Wednesday, February 20th)  and they have renewed the hope of citizens that Niagara may eventually have a professional, effective and highly functioning Conservation Authority again.

Then there were some words that came in the form of a comment to a news report Niagara At Large posted this February 21st on Barrick’s departure from Don Alexander, who served on one of Niagara’s first regional council and who is someone I came to know through my years as an environment reporter at The St. Catharines Standard as a passionate supporter of efforts to protect and preserve what is left of Niagara’s natural heritage.

I leave you here with Don Alexander’s response to some official comments Barrick released this February 21st, on his way out the door. The words that are all capped are Don’s doing –

Niagara citizen Don Alexander

“In his boastful bye bye, (David) Barrick tells us that during “his time”, there were “net surpluses”, “financial health”, ” increased investment capital”, and “operational reserves replenished”.


And then Barrick says he’s “moving forward to other opportunities”.

Wanna’ bet those opportunities involve another Doug Ford provincial appointment to a plush post?

  • Don Alexander

– Don Alexander is a St. Catharines resident and was an, elected member of Niagara Regional Council from 1973 to 1976 when a term of council lasted three (not the current four) years and when discussion and debate in the council chambers was far more civil than it has been in recent years.

Don Alexander also has a background in planning and has served the community in many ways over the years, including sitting on the Niagara Escarpment Commission, a body with a responsibility for good environmental stewardship on Niagara Escarpment lands.

Niagara At Large will have more on what is going down in and around the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in the days ahead, and will certainly be following efforts to find out how much the Barrick ‘separation agreement’ cost the people of Niagara, and we will keep the pressure on for disclosure of this information too.

Stay Tuned.

For a news commentary Niagara At Large posted this February 22nd on David Barrick’s exit from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, click on

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

3 responses to “At David Barrick’s NPCA, ‘Money-Centred Business’ Trumped Conservation Goals

  1. The true legacy of his tenure is that he was initially put in charge of operations despite having NO experience in watershed or parks operations. The board and Barrick willfully endangered the safety of the public. That is beyond shameful.


  2. Agreed.
    Cough it up, Mr. Bylsma!
    What did that jerk Barrick cost us…….and did you fight hard enough NOT to pay him ANYTHING?


  3. It is far more than just one ‘public servant’ receiving hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars over the past 5 years in jobs he was not qualified to do and now walking away with an unknown ‘mutual separation agreement’
    This present Niagara governance ‘sickness’ now goes back through three different Regional administrations and three NPCA (Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority) Boards and appears to be endemic to the administration of the NPCA.
    The only consistent theme is the fact throughout all of the highly questionable decisions and appointments made by different Regional Councilors on the NPCA Board(s) is that they have been made on the advice and recommendations of many unelected senior staff and taxpayer funded lawyers whose very livelihood depends on maintaining a status quo where all staff – regardless of their actions – appear to be protected by confidential protocols and ‘mutual separation agreements’.
    As a voter and a taxpayer I don’t ever remember being offered an opportunity to ‘vote’ for either government bureaucracy, lawyers paid for by my tax dollars or even the multitude of consultants that are employed every time our ‘public servants’ want reports that favour outcomes (often against the interests of the community) they claim they are not qualified to recommend!
    Think about it!
    Many voters and taxpayers believed this past (October 22nd, 2018 municipal) election was about making a real change and changing this growing dysfunction of recent years in both Regional Council and particularly in the NPCA.
    Less than three months in, and in spite of all the evidence now made public and in spite of a very damning Ontario Auditor General’s Report (on mismanagement at the NPCA) , this new Regional Council and NPCA Board have already accepted the status quo and obviously believe that they, just like Councils before them, now have every right to ignore all those promises last October of transparency and accountability.
    It is not just one senior staff member whose departure should be questioned but every single one of them.
    Just how many millions of our tax dollars are this new Regional Council and the NPCA Board prepared to waste so they can then claim that they have kept their campaign promises?
    It seems to me that all they are doing is perpetuating our governance problems and making them even worse.
    It is increasingly clear that a dissolution of not only the NPCA, but also of the Niagara Regional government, would make far better sense.
    Andrew Watts


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