Open Letter to NPCA Chair, Sandy Annunziata

25 January 2017

Sandy Annunziata, Chair
Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA)
250 Thorold Rd
Welland, ON L3C 3W2

Mr. Annunziata:
I’m writing to firstly congratulate you on your new position as Chair of the NPCA and secondly, to thank you for sharing your lengthy perspective on recent developments with the NPCA in the region. Despite the confrontational nature of your press document, I’ll do my best to address some of your key concerns.
I appreciate your relaying a verbose understanding of the term advocacy.  Given the many definitions you provide, it’s unfortunate that you overlook my responsibility as an elected Member of Provincial Parliament to ensure the voices in my community are heard. This responsibility includes working with countless individuals, advocates, community groups, municipalities, and fellow MPP’s across partisan lines to ensure advocacy translates into effective political action.
To be clear, these are the very individuals who have been calling on their municipalities to take action; Action that, in this case, has translated into unanimous motions across the region calling for greater transparency and accountability at the NPCA. Collectively, these represent close to one million voices from diverse backgrounds.  As such, it isn’t one special interest group as you claim, or a singular agenda; rather, long standing appeals by many in the communities that we both were elected to represent.  As elected officials, it’s our duty to ensure their voices are heard. I was pleased to see the NPCA finally agree to a third party forensic audit at its most recent board meeting. I trust the motion inspires you as Chair to engage (as you say) with these very partners in thoughtful, respectful discussion to find common ground in hopes of restoring trust in the NPCA.
To emphasize this point, I remind you that these concerns aren’t new. In fact, they’re one of the key reasons the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) undertook the larger review process. A recent letter from the MNRF validates how longstanding the concerns are and confirms they’ve heard similar concerns from many public stakeholders and Indigenous Communities as part of the review process. As such, it should come as no surprise that the first key priority of the review mandate is to strengthen oversight and accountability in decision making processes.
Actions speak louder than words Mr. Annunziata, and it’s unfortunate that you perceive mine to be divisive when one of your first public statements in this new capacity is a letter designed to undermine the very legitimate concerns that I’ve brought forward on behalf of Niagara’s residents. I believe as Chair, your new role provides you an opportunity to restore faith in the NPCA. To that end, perhaps resources could be better spent on working together to ensure the organization is transparent, accountable and trusted, rather than wasting those very dollars to silence the voices of those concerned.
(original signed)
Cindy Forster, MPP
Welland Riding