April 21, 2017 - Welland, ON - The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Board of Directors today voted unanimously to repeal the Hodgson Motion and direct the Chair of the Board of Directors to resume conversations with the Auditor General of Ontario. The recommendation was brought forth by Chair Sandy Annunziata after it was revealed to him that interference from a Board Member occurred during the RFP Process.
The Hodgson Motion called for an independent third-party to perform an Operation Review and Performance Assessment of the NPCA from 2011 to 2016. The motion directed the Acting CAO of the NPCA, Peter Graham to engage procurement staff from the Niagara Region, City of Hamilton, and Haldimand County in the creation of a Request for Proposal. The spirit of the motion was to remove all Board involvement in the process.
"It was brought to my attention that a Board Member has interfered with the process, and as such, calls into question the integrity of the RFP process," stated Annunziata. "I take this very seriously, and this is why I acted swiftly to halt the process and re-engage the Auditor General as allowed under current legislation."
"Although I am disappointed that a board member has interfered in the process, I am proud to say that these steps demonstrate that the NPCA is the most transparent Conservation Authority in the province. I challenge anyone to prove otherwise. As a result of the two-year consultative strategic plan, we now live-stream Board meetings, have volumes of detailed reports, monthly financial disclosure, quarterly reports, annual reports, and a third-party audited financial statement with over 30 pages of detail while Toronto, Hamilton, and others are 18 pages. We're the only one to have continuous dialogue with all of our stakeholders through a Community Liaison Advisory Committee, extensive public consultation and open houses (12 consultations regarding Welland River Floodplain mapping alone), and a customer service charter. Now we're the only CA, or municipality for that matter, in discussions with the Auditor General in all of Ontario; again I challenge other organizations to open their doors and their books to the Auditor General. This further demonstrates we are the leaders in all of Ontario in openness and transparency", said Annunziata.
The NPCA undergoes an independent third-party financial audit on an annual basis, as mandated by the Conservation Authorities Act. The 2016 Audited Financial Statement is set for approval by the Board of Directors at their next meeting on April 26.
"Grant Thornton reviews our books on an annual basis," stated Tony Quirk, Chair of the NPCA Audit Committee. "The 2016 report reveals that the NPCA has no findings of fraud or illegal acts, which is consistent with prior years. This report is made public every year, and any inference otherwise is merely rhetoric."
Annunziata stated that he would report back to the Board of Directors the results of conversations with the Auditor General at the May 2017 Board Meeting.