Ford Moves to Strip Citizen Voices from NPCA & Other Conservation Authority Boards, and Weaken Conservation Authorities’ Voice in Development Proposals
A News Commentary by Liz Benneian, a citizen activist in Niagara, Ontario, and leading member of the citizen-based groups, A Better Niagara, Biodiversity and Climate Action Niagara and Ontariogreen
Posted November 9th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
Hidden in the Ford government’s budget bill(tabled this past November 5th) are changes to the Conservation Act that have special importance to the citizens of Niagara including that only elected Councillors can be appointed to the board.
That’s what we had before the last municipal election. It didn’t work out so well. The same corrupt cabal that made a mess out of our Regional government, took over the Conservation Authority, got rid of a lot of experienced, qualified staff, hired their friends and turned the organization into a rubber stamp for the development industry.
That’s why Niagara’s citizens voted them out of office. That’s why there was a very critical Auditor General’s report on the NPCA (Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority).
That’s why citizens advocated to have some citizens appointed to the Conservation Authority’s board. And the newly elected municipal and Regional Council listened.
Currently 12 of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s 21 board members are citizen appointees — and they bring with them an amazing wealth of skills and experience that serves the board well.
Among them are two people with years of experience working for Conservation authorities, an engineer with extensive experience in water management, an MBA and CPA who was a former assistant deputy Minister with the Ontario government, a former mayor, a professional planner and a veterinarian who was the Executive Director, Conservation, Education and Wildlife for the Toronto Zoo.
These are the people Ford insists be turfed out.
As well, the new Act requires that the Councillors appointed to the board “act on behalf of their respective municipalities”.
This flies in the face of what board members are supposed to do which is act in the best interest of the organization on whose board they serve. Conservation Authorities are supposed to make decisions on the basis of what’s best for the entire watershed. How can they do that when the new Conservation Act explicitly tells them to act in the interest of their own little piece of home turf?
The changes also constrict the role of Conservation Authorities in many ways that are still being studied to be fully understood, but the bottom line is that the public interest is not being served by these changes.
Developers on the other hand, are being served a buffet.
For more on the citizen-based groups, A Better Niagara, Ontariogreen, and Biodiversity and Climate Action Niagara, click on the following links –
For A Better Niagara, click on – https://www.facebook.com/betterniagara/ .
For Ontariogreen, click on – www.ontariogreen.ca
For Biodiversity and Climate Action, Niagara, click on – https://www.facebook.com/Biodiversity-and-Climate-Action-Committee-Niagara-114688909983836/
A Footnote from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –
Niagara At Large will be posting more from these citizen groups and more from our side on this outrageous assault on Conservation Authorities, our municipal planning rules and on our natural heritage in Niagara by Doug Ford, Sam Oosterhoff and company in the anti-environment Tory juggernaut in the days ahead.
If you are concerned about this move by Ontario’s Ford government to gut the province’s Conservation Authorities, contact members of our Niagara Regional Council by moving the following emails in to letter on you’re the TO box on your email screen, and urge our councillors to do what they can to stop this move – firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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