NPCA Board Member ‘Outraged’ over Weekend Message from Board’s Chair

 A News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted March 27th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Lincoln regional councillor Bill Hodgson said he was having a pretty enjoyable Sunday this past weekend until he went to his computer and opened up the following email the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s communications specialist Michael Reles sent him that March 26th day on behalf of the NPCA’s board chair Sandy Annunziata.

NPCA chair and Fort Erie regional councilor Sandy Annunziata at March 8th special meeting of board to address audit issue.

“Dear Member Hodgson,” began the email to Hodgson who sits on the NPCA’s board. “I  hope you are enjoying your weekend.”

“In response to your Regional Councillors report at the Monday, March 20, Town of Lincoln Council Meeting,” added Reles of a report on regional affairs that he shared with the town council he once sat on as the town’s mayor, “the Chair has asked me to contact you for your written submissions to support a claim you made.”

“Specifically, he (Annunziata) is requesting you address the claim that “They say they’re following the resolution, but, really, a grade 2 student would understand, you’re not following the resolution,” the email continued. “He is also requesting that this is done in advance of our Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday. Best Regards, … Michael Reles, Communications Specialist.” Continue reading

International Joint Commission  Hosts Public Meetings in St. Catharines/Niagara and Buffalo, New York on Great Lakes Water Quality

Speak Up for the Great Lakes you Love

A Call-Out from the Canada-U.S. International Joint Commission

Posted March 27th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Residents of the Buffalo and Niagara region are invited to share their views about the Great Lakes at public meetings hosted by the Canada-U.S. International Joint Commission (IJC).

Lake Erie at bottom and Lake Ontario at top, with the Niagara River in right half of photo in between. Image shot from Earth’s orbit

On March 28th, 2017, a public roundtable on topics specific to Buffalo will be held from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. at the WNED/WBFO studios at 140 Lower Terrace in downtown Buffalo, NY.

A general public meeting will be held at the same location from 6 – 9 p.m. 

On Wednesday, March 29,  the public is invited to a roundtable discussion from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. at the St. Catharines Rowing Club at Alumni Hall on Henley Island Drive in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Canada and the United States released their progress report last fall on accomplishing the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement’s goals, and the International Joint Commission released their draft assessment report on January 18. Continue reading

Town of Pelham’s Financial Affairs Could Hurt Niagara Region’s Credit Rating, Port Colborne Regional Councillor Warns

David Barrick To Introduce Motion To Regional Council Urging Pelham to Disclose its “2015 annual audited financial statement,” among other things

A News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted March 27th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Of all the motions listed on the agenda for Niagara Region’s upcoming Thursday, March 30th, the one I am positing here struck me the most.

The motion, according to the agenda, is being brought forward by David Barrick, a Niagara regional councillor for Port Colborne who is chair of the regional government’s Corporate Services Committee and who also holds a senior management position at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.

Port Colborne regional council and Niagara corporate services committee Chair David Barrick.

The motion, posted in its entirety below, highlights what are characterized as a number of concerns around the financial health of the Town of Pelham that could, as the motion reads on, contribute to a potential for Niagara’s regional government “to receive a negative credit rating” which, as this reporter of municipal news understands, is not a good position for any government to be in.

Therefore, the motion – if approved by a majority of regional councillors at its March 30th meeting – would see the regional government asking the Town of Pelham to publicly disclose its 2015 annual audited financial statement along with the corresponding management letter with staff responses as well as the same documents for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.” Continue reading

Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Hails Move to Revoke Trumpcare Bill

Brian Higgins Calls This Past Friday, March 24th’s Defeat a Victory for Hard-Working Americans but Says We Will Continue to Fight to Protect Affordable Care

From the Buffalo, New York Office of U,S, Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted March 27th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins of Buffalo/Western New York

Buffalo/Western New York – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) released the following statement after learning that the American Health Care Act (Trumpcare) was pulled from consideration in the House of Representatives:

“Since the introduction of the Republican healthcare bill, less than three short weeks ago, people across our district and the country have expressed deep concern for the legislation which was better suited to protect wealthy insurance companies’ profit margins than hard-working Americans.  Continue reading

Greater Niagara Chamber CAO Makes Case For Improved Public Transit Across Region

A Statement from Mishka Balsom, CAO for the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Delivered to Niagara’s regional council this past Thursday, March 23rd, just before the council voted to move forward with more consolidated transit services for the Niagara region.

Posted March 24rth, 2017 on Niagara At Large

(A Brief Foreword Note from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper

While Niagara’s regional chair Al Caslin and other elected officials in the region were busy applauding themselves this March 23rd after finally voting to take another step toward the seamless, accessible and affordable transit system many people in this region have been longing and lobbying for for years, I could not help but think of so many people, living and in some cases now dead, and groups that have been pushing for transit systems like the ones that have been operating for years in other Ontario regions like Waterloo, Halton, and Peel.

I could not help but thing of the many articulate students from Brock University and Niagara College who have gone before regional councillors year after year, pressing for better transit services, and of other young people like Jennifer Sinclair and others from that great transit advocacy group ‘Meet on the Bus’. Continue reading

Strong Support For Inter-Municipal Transit In Niagara

 Niagara Region’s Council Approves Recommendations Towards Consolidated Transit Service

News from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted March 24th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

One of the Region’s inter-municipal transit buses makes a stop in Welland. File photo by Doug Draper

Niagara, Ontario – Niagara Region Council has signaled strong support (at a March 23rd special meeting of council) for the future of inter-municipal transit in Niagara by endorsing in principle the creation of a consolidated transit system along with the municipalities of Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Welland.

This follows recent unanimous approvals from St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland city councils to also approve in principle the consolidation of their transit services into one entity with Niagara Region. Continue reading

A Member of NPCA’s Own Advisory Committee Tables Letter of Non-Confidence against Conservation Authority’s Board

“The current board of directors of the NPCA has lost the public’s confidence. … Their actions have demonstrated governance issues that speak to poor use of public funds, poor management of Niagara’s natural heritage and poor treatment of valued employees.” – from an open letter tabled this past Thursday, March 23rd by Albert Garofalo, a respected  naturalist and member of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s Community Liaison Advisory Committee.

A News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted March 24rth, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Niagara resident and well-known naturalist Albert Garofalo.

Albert Garofalo – a Niagara resident and professional biologist representing environmental clubs and groups in the region on the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s Community Liaison Advisory Committee – tabled a toughly worded letter at the end of one of the committee’s meetings this March 23rd.

The letter, tabled by Garofalo as the committee’s chair, Sandy Annunciata, opened the floor to “other business,” calls on the councils of all municipalities within the Niagara watershed the NPCA has a mandate to care for, including Niagara’s 12 municipalities, the City of Hamilton and Haldimand County, to “withdraw their municipally appointed representatives to the Conservation Authority board and direct Premiere Kathleen Wynne to appoint a third party manager to immediately oversee day to day operations of the NPCA.” Continue reading