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Letter to the Editor- Response to Aug. 18, Sulphur Springs Road article

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is a community-based watershed management agency that is mandated by the Province of Ontario to undertake programs to protect people and property from flooding and other natural hazards, and to conserve natural resources.  Through the Conservation Authorities Act, the NPCA regulates development and activities in or adjacent to river and stream valleys, Great Lakes shorelines, watercourses, hazardous lands prone to flooding and erosion, and wetlands.   

The NPCA delivers more than 1,200 permits and development reviews annually, and is committed to providing exemplary customer service, which is guided by the NPCA Board-approved client service standards that are available online at  https://npca.ca/images/uploads/common/2020_Draft_NPCA_Client_Service_Standards_for_Plan_and_Permit_Review.pdf.  Our staff are committed to treating all clients fairly and professionally.  

We note that NPCA (and conservation authorities across Ontario) work with many Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGO’s) and community groups as part of our grassroot community engagement work to promote stewardship of natural resources and achieve collective outcomes. However, we must be clear that NPCA does not engage or rely on third party or ENGO input or influence in carrying out our legislative mandate of plan review and permitting. These responsibilities are carried out independently by our professionally trained and experienced technical experts based on decades of science and evidence.

Before making a permit application to the NPCA, we encourage landowners to have a pre-consultation meeting with our staff to identify the pieces of information needed for the application. In some cases, detailed plans and studies are required to demonstrate that the proposed works will not have a negative impact on people, property and the environment. When all information is received by the NPCA, the application is deemed complete and staff can start their review of the application, which may involve further discussions with the landowner. Once all the studies and plans meet the requirements of our regulation, we issue a permit. 

The NPCA understands the urgency to repair the erosion occurring along Sulphur Springs Road and the impacts the road closure has had on the residents of Pelham. Due to the ecological sensitivity and naturally occurring bank erosion within the creek along Sulphur Springs Road, the design solution for the road works has required technical reports and plans that must meet NPCA’s regulatory requirements to minimize risk and ensure the safety of the people who live within the area. Our staff have worked diligently with the applicant and their consultants to ensure the design meets the tests and requirements of our regulation. 

When a development permit from the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) is also needed, the NPCA coordinates with the NEC on the review of both permits. It must also be noted that the NEC permit must be issued first, before the NPCA permit is issued. The NPCA has effectively coordinated with NEC on this matter. Recently, the NEC has issued a Notice of Decision for the approval of their development permit. Once the NEC permit is issued, the NPCA  permit will be issued.  

The NPCA is committed to working collaboratively with the Town of Pelham and the NEC to move this important infrastructure project forward to meet the contractor’s work timeframe.

For more information about the NPCA’s Permitting and Plan Review process, please visit our website at https://npca.ca/services/permits.