NPCA Salary Disclosure Shows Six Positions at Conservation Authority Commanding Six-Figure Salaries

A News Commentary by Doug Draper, followed by a Salary Disclosures Statement released this November 5th by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA)

Posted November 6th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

In a brief statement circulated to the media this November 5th, the NPCA has disclosed the salaries for six positions at the agency that command salaries of $100,000 or more.

The statement comes after the office of Ontario’s Information and Salaries Commissioner ruled this October that disclosing the salaries at an agency that receives more than $10 million annually in public funds is in the “public interest” and over-rides any privacy concerns.

The six positions listed in the statement, along with the salaries that come with them, are as follows:

  • Manager, Information Management & Technology (previously disclosed) $102,035
  • Manager, Finance $102,035
  • Senior Manager, Operations & Special Projects $110,347
  • Director, Watershed Management $130,274
  • Senior Director, Corporate Services $147,383
  • Chief Administrative Officer $156,267

Ed Smith, a St. Catharines resident and community activist, made the request for disclosing the salaries before he was appointed to the NPCA’s board earlier this year by St. Catharines city council.

Ed Smith, a St. Catharines resident and citizen activist, filed a request for the disclosure of the salaries to the provincial commissioner’s office  last year, before he was appointed earlier this year to a position on the NPCA’s board of directors by St. Catharines city council.

Smith did so after the last NPCA board of directors and its then-chair Sandy Annunziata – a board that drew considerable public controversy over the past four years with a make-up of mostly municipal mayors and regional councillors who are now gone – did not disclose any NPCA administrators salaries for the province’s 2018 so-called Sunshine list for public servant salaries annually worth $100,000 or more.

Annunziata, who was also a regional councillor for Fort Erie before he was defeated in the October municipal elections, insisted last year that the Conservation Authority submitted six-digit salaries to provincial bureaucrats putting together the Sunshine List but was told that the NPCA did not qualify to make the list, and its submission was rejected.

Quite understandably, many members of the public did not accept that for an answer. And why should they given a history of citizens and even some political representatives, including provincial members of parliament, asking the old board and former administrators for information, then hitting a brick wall when it came to openness and transparency.

Up to a year ago, citizen protests like this one, in front of the NPCA’s Welland headquarters, or at meetings of the Conservation Authority’s board, were commonplace. And when six-figure salaries at the NPCA did not show up on the province’s Sunshine List, many saw it as one more attempt by the now former board and administrators to closet information they had a right to know. File photo by Doug Draper

Yet, on at least one point, Annunziata and company were not out of line to say that the NPCA was not required to report salaries for the Sunshine List because an iron-clad requirement to report only applies to public bodies that receive more than 10 per cent of their overall annual funding from provincial coffers.

And by last year at least, due to a drastic reduction in funding from the province, the NPCA no longer met the mark for reporting salaries for the Sunshine List.

According the NPCA’s own figures, the percentage amount of funding it receives from the province, compared to the funding it gets from other, mostly municipal government sources, has plummeted from more than 50 per cent in the 1970s, to 40 per cent in 1991, to mere four per cent in 2018, with most of the plunge in funding from the province taking place over the past two decades.

Pie charts prepared earlier this year by the NPCA highlight the shrinking amount of funding that the Conservation Authority receives each year from the province, compared to municipal sources. When the amount of funding it receives from provincial coffers falls below 10 per cent, an agency is no longer required to report six-figure salaries for the province’s annual Sunshine List

However, the office of Ontario’s Information and Salaries Commissioner has ruled that it is in the public interest to disclose salaries over $100,000 at this agency anyway, thus the salaries disclosures statement issued by the NPCA this November 5th.

In response to this November 5th’s disclosure statement by the NPCA, Ed Smith had this to say to Niagara At Large about the information that was disclosed and whatever information may have been withheld for individual privacy or human resources reasons –

“Given the litigious state of our current political environment,” said Smith, “it is not surprising that the NPCA displays an abundance of caution and holds some information closely. Thankfully, we have a freedom of information system available to all citizens,” he said, “that can ensure documents and information of compelling public interest are released for full scrutiny.”

Veteran conservationist Gayle Wood, who came on board as the NPCA’s new CAO last March, has done a good deal to steer the agency back to focusing on watershed restoration and conservation work.

On the question of what is being disclosed and what isn’t by the NPCA or any other parties, some readers may wonder why Niagara At Large is not attaching peoples’ names to the positions and salaries listed here. After all, we could place names of individuals beside the positions if we simply went to the NPCA’s website and looked up the names of those currently holding those positions.

My reason for not doing so – a reason I am almost sure some will take issue with – is that between November of last year and now, there have been quite  sea change who in the people holding key positions at the NPCA, both in administration and at the board of directors level.

Most, if not all of the people who drew the ire of the public a year ago and over the past five years or so, are gone.  And as much as we may, from time to time, have our disagreements with some of the decisions managers and board members at the NPCA are making now, there is a world of difference between what we have now and the darker times we suffered through with this agency over the past five or six years that have gone by.

I also know from my own years of experience as a journalist covering sunshine lists that for some people, just looking at lists of government employees commanding six-figure salaries makes them upset or angry.

I may get myself in a bit of trouble for saying this, but I don’t mind those six-figure salaries if they are going to qualified, well-intentioned people doing good work in an agency that provides services that benefits our communities. On that score, I would have had a lot more trouble with the salaries reported here a year ago, but not now.

If you have some different views on this, please feel free to share them in the comment area below.

Now here is the full salary disclosures statement from the NPCA –

STATEMENT REGARDING NPCA SALARY DISCLOSURES

In compliance with order MO-3844, Appeal MA18-440-2, that was made by the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the NPCA is disclosing the following titles and salaries of the staff that earn $100,000 or more. The record lists this information as of November 2018.

TITLE & ANNUAL SALARY

  • Manager, Information Management & Technology (previously disclosed) $102,035
  • Manager, Finance $102,035
  • Senior Manager, Operations & Special Projects $110,347
  • Director, Watershed Management $130,274
  • Senior Director, Corporate Services $147,383
  • Chief Administrative Officer $156,267

About the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority:

The NPCA manages the impact of human activities, urban growth, and rural activities on the Niagara Peninsula watershed with programs and services that help keep people and their property safe from flooding and erosion, while retaining the safety of our drinking water.

NPCA manages 42 Conservation Areas, including Ball’s Falls, Binbrook, Long Beach and Chippawa Creek. These lands are held in public trust for recreation, heritage preservation, conservation, and education. NPCA’s Conservation Areas marry nature, culture and adventure to create limitless opportunities for discovery.

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A Reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

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“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

 

One response to “NPCA Salary Disclosure Shows Six Positions at Conservation Authority Commanding Six-Figure Salaries

  1. Thank you Mr. Draper for your balanced story on this matter. For the record, as the current CAO of NPCA my salary has been voluntarily posted on our website since my arrival in Spring 2019. Further, our Board of Directors dealt with this matter six months ago by stating, in future, salaries over $100,000 will be posted on our website.

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