About those blue “invoices”

Dear Conservative Party, WTF (as in What the Fundraiser) were you thinking to approve such an underhanded, fraudulent, SCAM of a fundraiser? I believe if I were to execute such a devious plan I would be charged to the fullest extent of the law. The henchperson(s) of this scheme should be charged as well as dismissed without severance.

Well, your hope that my father would blindly send you a cheque for said “invoice” has backfired. First, he died several years ago—something, by the way—I have informed you of on several occasions. Second, although the invoice comment made me open your letter, don’t look for my vote or assistance in the next provincial election.

By the way, in my books, your error has added a nail on the “nay” side of the Federal Conservatives too.

Thanks for demonstrating what crooks politicians of all parties can be. Sign me, Gravely Disillusioned Voter

R. Culos
Fonthill

 

Act on climate now

For years, the fossil fuel industry and their political allies have sowed doubt about climate change and convinced the public that it’s an abstract, far-away problem. This summer, many Canadians are realizing that this was a dangerous lie. The BC heatwave was so intense that it killed hundreds of people and, right now, thousands more are living in fear of wildfires raging across the country. The climate emergency is here and now. It’s time for our political leaders to take real action.

Prime Minister Trudeau talks like a climate leader, but he doesn’t act like one. Canada is still building pipelines and planning to expand fossil fuel production for decades to come. And Trudeau still hasn’t delivered the Just Transition Act he promised last election, legislation critical to phasing out fossil fuels in a way that puts workers and communities first.

I was glad to see 350.org launch the #CanadaOnFire campaign, which calls on Trudeau to take emergency-level action on the climate crisis instead of just talking about it.

We have two demands:

An immediate moratorium on new fossil fuel approvals and a freeze on all fossil fuel projects under construction — including the Trans Mountain pipeline. And the Just Transition legislation, to support impacted workers and communities, especially Indigenous and remote communities, as we move towards a 100 percent renewable energy future.

Liam Winters
St. Catharines

 

NPCA makes its own decisions

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 (ENGOs) 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.

Erika Navarro
Communications Specialist
NPCA

 

TUC was hands-off

It is most unfortunate that the Niagara Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada has been dragged into a controversy that it had no part in creating [Junkin media gambit prompts NPCA action, Aug. 18, p.1]. According to the report, “behind the scenes Junkin believed that the environmental advocacy group Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC) was the primary driver behind the continued delays, with their apparent intent being to run out the clock on work being able to start this season.”

Duffin’s and Junkin’s allegations are false and without any grounds whatsoever. Our advocacy has been up-front, published in the Voice, expressed in a presentation to council, delivered on CKTB, and featured on Cogeco TV. We have no power to influence the permitting process of any government agency, not the NPCA, not the MNRF, not the Escarpment Commission, and not the DFO. This fact was unequivocally corroborated by the NPCA. In fact, all our in-stream projects are subject to the same approval process experienced by Duffin Contracting.

Duffin promised to show us their design. We have yet to see it. Mayor Junkin needs to share this design publicly and assure citizens that the project will not harm Brook Trout habitat and will be completed within the budget approved by council.

Our concern is and has always been the protection of Twelve Mile Creek, and we have not been shy to advocate for a solution that respects the fragile creek— the last remaining stream in Niagara that supports cold water-reliant species.

Sulphur Springs Drive washed out because there is simply too much water flowing from roads, roofs and drives above the watershed into the Twelve Mile Creek, causing flood damage to properties that adjoin the creek. There is much work to do to restore the natural balance of Twelve Mile Creek (https://www.tucniagara.com/actionplan.html.).

It is the time for the Mayor to get off his soapbox and show some leadership to protect one of the Town’s most valuable assets. It will take all community members, working collaboratively together to reverse the environmental degradation, and preserve the rich cultural and natural heritage for all who appreciate the natural treasure that is Twelve Mile Creek.

Dennis Edell
President, Niagara Chapter
Trout Unlimited Canada

Editor’s note: The tender for this project required the winner to work closely with approval agencies to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations. In this case, the approval agencies were the NPCA, NEC, MNRF and DFO. As Mr. Edell himself acknowledges, Trout Unlimited does not have the authority to grant approvals or issue permits. Nonetheless, Trout Unlimited was invited to join a meeting with all stakeholders on October 2, 2020. Duffin Contracting tells the Voice that at this meeting it was made clear that once the drawings were signed-off by all approval agencies then the contractor would be in a position to share them with third parties, including Trout Unlimited—standard procedure for this type of design/build project, as Mr. Edell is no doubt fully aware. As for the Mayor and Town Council’s duty of care, it is first and foremost to the residents of Sulphur Springs Drive, not to fish in a creek—worthy of protection may they be—nor to an arbitrary budget limit on the work necessary to secure the safety of these residents.

 

Despite delays, determination to get job completed this year

I wanted to reach out and acknowledge all of the positive feedback that we have received as a result of the article in last week’s edition of the Voice [Junkin media gambit prompts NPCA action, Aug. 18, p.1]. I also wanted to provide a brief update. Last week the NEC had the opportunity to allow us to start staging the works, however, they elected to follow in the NPCA’s footsteps and further drag out the process, which may yet put an end to it altogether. This last delay results in leaving us with approximately seven working days to complete an eight-week job. As noted earlier, we are bound by the Department of Fisheries to complete the in-water works from July 15 to September 15.

No one treasures the Short Hills more than Bill Duffin, who began riding his bike there at age 12. We both continue to admire Pelham’s gem, and in light of the fact that our rural culture and way of life is quickly disappearing it is paramount that Sulphur Springs Drive remains open to ensure that all of Pelham’s citizens can enjoy this special spot. As resident Dr. Stark stated last week, this area was heralded as the most scenic and beautiful drive in the Niagara Region. We echo this sentiment and will not give up the fight to ensure that our environmentally friendly approach to re-opening the road will prevail.

Kim and Bill Duffin
Fonthill

 

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Infections up, but hospitalizations low

Although Niagara Region cases are climbing, as they are across the country, it must be remembered that this indicator cannot be viewed now as it was a year ago, or even six months ago. Even though our vaccinated numbers are below 80 percent (72 percent one dose, 64 percent fully vaccinated,) our total number of confirmed Covid patients being treated in Niagara hospitals remains very low, four at the present time. The seven- day average of deaths in the province is five, which is higher than what is actually occurring because the province is doing something called “data cleanup,” in which people who died weeks or months ago, and who somehow were never counted, are added to the current figures.

The province is still vaccinating between 47,000 and 50,000 residents per day, but unless there is a sudden surge, I can’t see our Region hitting 80 percent in the near term. I hope I am wrong, but clinics within the Region, even with walk-ins, are reporting low daily numbers.

On to the latest news with Sulphur Spring Drive—we now have approval in principle to go ahead with the work. If permits do indeed come through, the project can go ahead and start Sept 3. The majority of the residents on the road can’t wait to get their road back this fall. Five years is a long time to be without safe access to your home.