NPCA board show­down brew­ing

NPCA act­ing chair says Ni­a­gara only gets five board mem­bers, Re­gion says it has 12

The Niagara Falls Review - - News - GRANT LAFLECHE

The Ni­a­gara Penin­sula Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity could be headed for a po­lit­i­cal and le­gal show­down as cur­rent and past board mem­bers ar­gue over who should gov­ern the agency.

A group of 12 Ni­a­gara re­gional coun­cil­lors ap­pointed Thurs­day evening as an in­terim NPCA board are ready to be­gin their work at the next sched­uled au­thor­ity meet­ing on Dec. 12.

How­ever, the board’s act­ing chair, James Kasper­setz of Hamilton, and the agency’s re­cently ap­pointed in­terim CAO Lisa McManus, say that is seven board mem­bers too many.

“I am happy to see the Ni­a­gara Five take their seats,” said Kasper­setz. “What are the oth­ers do­ing to do? Sit around in protest?”

Mean­while, at least one for­mer board mem­ber — ex-St. Catharines re­gional coun­cil­lor Bruce Timms — said he is not sure he will re­lin­quish his seat on Dec.

12.

“I will ful­fil my le­gal obli­ga­tions, what­ever they are, to the best of my knowl­edge. Not en­tirely clear yet,” Timms said in an email.

At is­sue are the rules govern­ing the com­po­si­tion of the NPCA board.

For over 20 years, Ni­a­gara Re­gion has ap­pointed 12 peo­ple to the board, while Hami­ton ap­pointed two and Haldimand had one.

Those num­bers were es­tab­lished by a 1994 pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment di­rec­tive, which be­came in­valid four years later.

The sta­tus of the di­rec­tive was largely un­known un­til for­mer NPCA chair and ex-Fort Erie re­gional coun­cil­lor Sandy An­nun­zi­ata re­cently in­sisted its process of se­lect­ing the next board, which has never been used, is “the law.”

The Min­istry of the En­vi­ron­ment said this week that since 1994 rule is de­funct, the num­ber of board mem­bers is de­cided by the Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­i­ties Act.

The act sets the num­ber of board mem­bers per mu­nic­i­pal­ity against its pop­u­la­tion, or by agree­ment be­tween the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in a con­ser­va­tion au­thor­ity zone.

There is no agree­ment be­tween Ni­a­gara Re­gion, Hamilton and Haldimand about the board com­po­si­tion. Based on pop­u­la­tion, Hamilton would have six mem­bers, Ni­a­gara Re­gion five and Haldimand two. How­ever, only 20 per cent of the City of Hamilton falls within the NPCA’s ju­ris­dic­tion.

“Sandy An­nun­zi­ata is a peach,” said Kasper­setz. “But if he had not in­serted him­self into this process, we would not know about (the 1994 or­der), and Ni­a­gara would have 12 mem­bers.”

McManus sent a let­ter to the Re­gion Fri­day say­ing the board has to be se­lected ac­cord­ing to the act.

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik said the act gives the Re­gion the power to re­place board mem­bers at any time, which coun­cil did Thurs­day. The new board mem­bers should be al­lowed on the board while the fu­ture gov­er­nance of the NPCA is de­cided, he said.

“If that means a smaller board go­ing for­ward, so be it. But al­low these duly elected representatives to sit on the board and do their job,” he said. “There are kinder­garten classes that are bet­ter be­haved than the last group of NPCA board mem­bers. If ev­ery­one wears their adult pants, then these is­sues can be dealt with in a ma­ture fash­ion and the work of the NPCA can move for­ward.”

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