The Auditor General’s report on the audit of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority was tabled a short time ago at Queen’s Park and is now available on the AG’s site. Not surprisingly, the AG found that there is some serious issues with that organization.
This is an important report as our Regional Councillor Tony Quirk sits on the NPCA Board and is the Region’s Audit Chair. While he proclaims his achievements at the Region, it appears his other house at the NPCA is not quite in order.
While we sift through the 100+ page document and pull out the goodies, here are some points pulled from the AG’s summary:
- Members of the NPCA involved themselves in day-to-day operations and the AG deemed it inappropriate as it “compromises the board’s objectivity in fulfilling its oversight role, and can negatively impact staff decision-making and morale”.
- The NPCA only has 50% of watercourses mapped. No doubt the AG audit spurred the NPCA to recently undertake floodplain mapping ahead of the AG report (as per our post here). One purpose of the flood plain maps is to “make decisions on development proposals”.
- For the NPCA proposed Thundering Waters project which would have destroyed provincially significant wetlands for development and recreate them elsewhere, the NPCA had “not studied the site’s eco-system to determine if it contained unique features that cannot be replicated”.
- Complaints about potential violations to the NPCA were not responded to consistently and enforcement actions were not tracked. “Timely enforcement action is important because the NPCA has only two years to take legal action, if needed.”
- In 2007, the NPCA obtained $3 million from Ontario Power Generation to improve the health of the Welland River. The funds were to be spent by 2012, but only about half has been spent and the NPCA was unable to identify what work was undertaken and whether the spent money has improved the river’s health.
- Half of NPCA employees have a negative view of their workplace.
- Between 2013 and 2017, half of the NPCA’s $3.8 million in purchases were not done in adherence to “its own policies for the competitive acquisition of goods and services”.
We will comb through the document to bring forth other details, including the interesting Carmen D’Angelo payments. But if you are curious and want to read the full report on your own, you can find it at this link: Special Audit of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
It’s clear that the priorities of the NPCA are not in line with their mandate of conservation of our natural resources. With that in mind, if a man in a blue suit shows up at your door asking to be re-elected to Regional Council, you might want to ask some questions about the AG’s finding on the NPCA.
It should be interesting to see if the NPCA goes into criticism mode or twists the AG report into something it is not. While they may have celebrated the OPP’s findings of “no criminal wrongdoing”, they may have a tough time putting a spin on the Auditor General’s report.