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Reflections on 2020 – A year of change, resilience, and progress at the NPCA


The year 2020 started with anticipation and hope as we embarked on a journey to continue to steer the organization in the right direction. We had an ambitious agenda ahead of us!  

By any measure, 2020 was an extraordinary year. The COVID-19 pandemic presented unforeseen challenges to the NPCA’s day-to-day operations, our staff, communities, and our watersheds. In addition to delivering on our regular business, we had to innovate on-the-go. With ongoing ingenuity, and the resilience of our staff and support of our Board of Directors, we easily navigated through these difficult times. Our gratitude also goes out to the strong network of municipal partners and public health agencies who continue to deliver a coordinated response to the pandemic.

Some of the key highlights from 2020 of which I am most proud include maintaining the health and safety of our staff and visitors, remaining financially stable and keeping all our staff employed. From the delivery of a clean financial audit, an impressive annual report, delivery of Auditor General of Ontario’s recommendations and development of new policies through to the management of COVID-19 pandemic, the NPCA made great progress under the direction of our Board, Chair Brenda Johnson, and Vice-Chair Bruce Mackenzie.

We steadfastly delivered on critical services and priority projects including flood management, planning review, enforcement, watershed monitoring, restoration, parks, camps, and community engagement, while maintaining the highest standards of health and safety. The virtual Ball’s Falls Thanksgiving Festival was a big success. Thanks to our volunteers, vendors, partners, and the Province of Ontario for their support in delivering this important initiative. Our park attendance was record breaking in 2020, a clear indication of the need for greenspace for the health and well-being of our watershed residents.

Many municipal partners welcomed presentations from the NPCA to hear about our progress and share their insights. The important work of building strong relationships with our local and regional municipal partners is ongoing and remains a priority for our organization.

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Foundation (NPCF) made impressive progress under the new Board of Directors, Chair Tom Insinna and Vice-Chair Rob Foster. A Memorandum of Understanding with the NPCF executed in 2020 will facilitate our continued support to steer the Foundation towards a long-term plan that is critical for the success of the NPCA and conservation in the watershed.  

A major part of 2021 will focus on the transitions in the Conservation Authority Act (CAA) and the new changes introduced through Bill 229 Budget Measures Act by the provincial government last fall. The NPCA has also launched a review of our planning policies and other important initiatives to align with these changes. Our staff-led Strategic Plan was launched in July 2020 with an ambitious community engagement process which will be initiated in spring 2021.   

Going forward, the NPCA will stand by our commitment to maintain a service-oriented culture, one that always prioritizes the highest possible level of service for partners, customers, and the broader community. We will continue to make investments in our people, processes, and technology to make us a more efficient and effective organization.

I remain extremely optimistic about what lies ahead for our organization and our leadership in the region and among our peers. I am thankful for the support of our community and I commend our staff for their dedication and faith in the mission and purpose of the NPCA.

Our staff embraced the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic with the utmost sincerity and commitment to public service. Their generosity and philanthropic spirit were evident in their acts of kindness in donating to local charities during the holiday season… something we must continue!

On a personal note, it has been an extreme honour to serve a conservation authority as rich in natural and cultural heritage as the NPCA. The year went by very quickly and I cherished every moment working with our professional team and a very supportive Board of Directors. We have made good progress, but we also have more work to do to fully restore faith in the community.  

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy 2021,

Chandra Sharma, CAO-Secretary Treasurer, NPCA