Province Appoints Hodgson to Serve as Chair of Niagara’s Source Protection Committee for Water
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted January 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
Members of the old cabal tried to crush him but he’s back.
Bill Hodgson, a former Niagara regional councillor who disappeared from the board of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority three years ago and in the wake of his efforts to have an independent audit done on NPCA operations, is back.
The Ontario’s Ministry of Environment, Conservation Parks has just appointed him to serve for a two-year term as Chair of the Niagara Source Protection Committee – a committee that works hand-in-hand with the NPCA to monitor and protect local sources of water in the Niagara watershed.
News of Bill Hodgson’s appointment came this January 28th in an NPCA media release that Niagara At Large is including below.
But first, let me just recall a few things about Bill Hodgson’s past public service, and about the outrageous treatment he received at the hands of individuals who are thankfully no longer members of the NPCA’s board and staff – all a way of saying that, in his veteran journalist’s and environment writers view – this appointment is welcome both because, in this case, they picked the right person and because, whether intentional or not, this appointment was an act of justice.
Bill Hodgson served for many years as a trustee on Niagara public school boards as they were amalgamated along the way before serving as the Town of Lincoln’s Mayor from 2003 to 2014, then Lincoln’s regional councillor through 2018 when he decided not to run again in the midst a culture of ugliness that defined the 2014-to-2918 term of Niagara regional council.
During that term of regional council, Hodgson was appointed by the municipal council in his Town of Lincoln to serve or, at least try to serve on an NPCA board of directors that was then dominated by regional councillors like St. Catharines’ Bruce Timms, Grimsby’s Tony Quirk, Fort Erie’s Sandy Annunziata and Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati, all seen by many members of the public to be part of then Niagara Regional Chair Al Caslin’s so-called “cabal”.
At the same time, Carmen D’Angelo (later the controversial Regional CAO under Caslin), followed by Mark Brickell served as CAO at the NPCA while questions and concerns continued to grow among members of the public over how the Conservation Authority was being operated with millions of dollars it receives each year from municipal taxpayers across Niagara and eastern reaches of Hamilton and Haldimand County.
Amidst calls from members of the public and Niagara’s provincial members of parliament for a truly independent audit of the NPCA’s operations, Bill Hodgson was the lone voice on the board who publicly lent his support to this call.
In April of 2017, the board, then chaired by Annunziata, suddenly went behind closed doors and censured Hodgson, accusing him of doing something that somehow tainted the process of choosing an independent auditor, without ever issuing any factual documents or details to back up its charges.
A month or so later, Hodgson resigned from the board and in the summer of 2018, with a backdrop of politicians that was equally as ugly at the regional council, he decided not to run for another term of council.
“My whole spirit of community service is crushed,” Hodgson told this reporter at the time he made his decision not to run in the October 2018 municipal elections. “I just feel discouraged. I don’t see an end to the nasty, self-serving people.”
Those were among the words Lincoln regional councillor Bill Hodgson shared with a local newspaper this July 4th to explain why, after 25 years of public service, he has decided not to run for another term of regional council in Niagara.
“I feel bad about this and I’ve already had some people tell me that if I don’t run, then they win,” he added, “but I can’t go back.”
We’ll in the end, Bill Hodgson has won – I would say earned – this well-deserved appointment, and most, if not all members of Caslin’s cabal, including Caslin himself, are no longer sitting on the regional council or NPCA board.
Last year, Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, found Hodgson blameless in an otherwise scathing report about how the NPCA was being managed for much of the past decade.
And last summer, members of the NPCA’s new board issued Hodgson a public apology for the way he was treated when he served on the board before them.
Hodgson graciously accepted the apology but noted that it should really come from those who so wrongly went after him while he was there – although no such apology ever came from them, and it possibly never will.
Bill Hodgson doesn’t really need their apology though.
Unlike them, he has made all the right friends and all of the right enemies by always showing himself to be an honest, responsible, hard-working servant for the people, and it is good to have him back in this important position.
Doug Draper, reporter/publisher, Niagara At Large
P.S. – For what it is worth, and I think it is worth a great deal, then-Lincoln Regional Councillor Bill Hodgson was also one of only a handful of councillors during the last term of regional council, when Al Caslin was still serving as the council’s chair, who, in October of 2016, voted ‘NO’ to hiring Carmen D’Angelo to the Region’s top chief administrative officer (CAO) job – a job D’Angelo no longer holds in the wake of investigations into alleged abuses of the Region’s processes for hiring senior staff.
Now here is the NPCA’s January 28th, 2020 media release on his appointment –
PROVINCE APPOINTS BILL HODGSON AS NIAGARA SOURCE PROTECTION COMMITTEE CHAIR
The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has appointed Mr. Bill Hodgson to the position of Niagara Source Protection Committee Chair, effective immediately until August 2022.
“Water is the basis for our prosperity, our growth, and our quality of life,” says Bill Hodgson, SPC Chair. “As a resident of the Niagara Region, I understand the importance of protecting our drinking water from its source and the crucial role that Niagara Source Protection plays. I look forward to serving in this role.”
Mr. Hodgson holds a BA and a master’s degree in Agricultural Geography from the University of Guelph. He brings a wealth of experience to this role, including;
- 11 years as Mayor of the Town of Lincoln;
- 15 years as a Niagara Regional Councillor;
- 11 years as a Public-School Board Trustee; and
- 20+ years as a member of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
The chair of the committee provides direction for all phases of the committee’s activities, presides over the source protection committee meetings, represents the committee at various functions, and works with the project manager with respect to the operation and administration of the committee.
“Significant progress has been made in source protection in the Niagara Peninsula Watershed,” adds Brenda Johnson, Source Protection Authority Chair. “We are pleased to welcome Mr. Hodgson to this role, to help us continue to work with all stakeholders to protect sources of drinking water.”
The Drinking Source Water Protection Program was established by the Government of Ontario because of The Clean Water Act in 2006. This resulted in the development of science-based assessment reports and local source protection plans carried out by multi-stakeholder source protection committees, supported by Source Protection Authorities. Together, they guide water protection efforts in areas across Ontario.
For more information on the Niagara Peninsula Source Protection program, visit www.sourceprotection-niagara.ca .
About NPCA: 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.
For a report on Bill Hodgson’s appointment, including a podcast on Heart Radio 610 CKTB, click on – https://www.iheartradio.ca/610cktb/news/bill-hodgson-is-back-with-the-npca-1.10510989
For past Niagara At Large posts on the ugly times Bill Hodgson and others had to go through, click on the following links one at a time –
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