The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is an organization committed to the ideals of openness, transparency and accountability, and as such wishes to express its appreciation to the Auditor General of Ontario for conducting such an extensive and thorough review of its operations, which when properly understood confirms that while the NPCA is not perfect, it is operationally trending in the right direction. NPCA also values the thoughtful comments put forward by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
NPCA concurs with, and is firmly aligned with, all of the recommendations of the Auditor General put forth in this report, most of which relate to process improvements and policy refinements. Indeed, NPCA on its own had already identified many of the same shortcomings and has taken decisive steps to address such deficiencies, through its ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. Recent examples of this would be the hiring of a procurement specialist to ensure best practices are followed with respect to all purchases and procurements, and the hiring of a compliance and enforcement officer. Another example, this one initiated by the Board, is the clear directive to develop and deliver a comprehensive education/orientation program to ensure Board members properly understand their roles, responsibilities and the legislative framework within which they operate. And just this month, the approval of the new NPCA Policy Document. NPCA’s specific response to each recommendation is provided in the body of the report.
Some of the recommendations in this report go beyond current legislation and/or the unilateral ability of NPCA to bring about the recommended change. These recommendations will require further input from stakeholders including the Province, other Conservation Authorities and Conservation Ontario, to name a few. This might be challenging considering the Province has just recently completed its comprehensive review of the Conservation Authorities Act. None-the-less, NPCA looks forward to participating in such discussions.
That said, the NPCA that exists today is more professional, better managed, more customer and stakeholder focused, more transparent and more accountable than ever before. Significant investments have been made in our parks and campgrounds, with more to come. Importantly, staff now have the tools and resources necessary to do their work. Costs have been controlled and self-generated revenues are up substantially.
Now that the Auditor General’s Office has completed its audit, the NPCA is poised for an amazing 2019. We invite the people of the watershed to engage with us as we move forward with our exciting 2018-2021 Strategic Plan, which among other things will serve to strengthen our collective stewardship of the watershed, rebuild the tree canopy, and secure more land for conservation, recreation and wildlife habitat.
The NPCA Audit Report has been prepared by the Auditor General of Ontario and as such any questions related to the report should be appropriately directed to the Auditor General.