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LETTER: Does the NPCA still conserve anything?


PelhamToday received the following letter from Andrew Watts in response to this news release from the NPCA:

Having read today’s piece all I can say is, regarding the NPCA, be very careful what you wish for! The following quote appears on NPCA Lake Erie mapping in Appendices to the Wainfleet Official Plan: “...Shoreline areas subject to severe flooding and erosion during storm conditions and high-water levels...”

Among the areas specifically highlighted is a 50-acre site extending east from the Casey Drain. This is the site of Wainfleet’s first-ever condominium, under construction currently, to build 30-plus, $2 million dollar beachside hut condominiums. In the past year this beach, clearly denoted as hazard lands, has lost up to 25 feet to beach erosion due to normally expected storm activity along Lake Erie’s shoreline.

During last year’s winter blizzard, existing homes, inland of this site, were isolated and without access to Lakeshore Road. Wainfleet’s emergency crew had to use heavy equipment to access the site after the blizzard and as severe flooding and ice buildup were beginning to decline.

This current construction began nearly 17 years after the original planning application was submitted and during all that time, the NPCA have merely rubber-stamped approval each time it has been resubmitted, as have several Township planners and elected councils.

Additionally, several years ago the NPCA directed one of its senior staff to enter negotiations with the developer to buy 15 acres of the single lot for $2.2 million to add to their land holdings.

Note: The Condominium Act allows planners, so they claim, to ignore Official Plan and Zoning Bylaws, specifically regarding Minimum Lot size and put 40-plus condos on just one lot, this one nearly 50 acres, most of which is required for a multi-unit development requiring a communal septic system and, apparently, as the Niagara Region has no plans to revisit any new municipal servicing plan for Wainfleet, until at least 2051, potable water will have to be trucked in!

All the above, incidentally, conflicts with provincial policy. The most recent meeting between private citizens and residents of Wainfleet and a senior NPCA staff member, to express their concerns about this development, was met by disinterest at best, and told the NPCA had no further interest in the matter.

To suggest that “...The NPCA plays a ’critical role’ in shoreline hazard management...” is rather difficult to believe at times.

The NPCA must sign off on every planning application before it can be presented to every council, by its own town planners for approval.

There are many citizens within all Niagara’s 12 municipalities who remain shocked when a formerly unheard-of development suddenly appears on a meeting agenda offering a public meeting about such a proposed development that seems to ignore many local planning policies, including environmental and even conservation concerns, that inevitably ignores residents’ concerns and is approved.

So, blame your planners as they deserve, also your elected ‘representatives,’ who are equally uninterested in your concerns, but if you expect any help from the NPCA, wait in vain.

And a final cautionary tale.

At the height of the pandemic scare when hordes of young folk were ignoring the Covid laws and partying around a Wainfleet quarry, more NPCA lands, the NPCA claimed they could not police the quarry, so Wainfleet’s council hired NRP officers and SPCA folk, along with their own Bylaw Officer to try to do the job. About the same time a report by the NPCA claimed that in their budget they were only able to commit 5 percent of their budget towards conservation efforts. With all their growing administration staff I just wonder why conservation no longer really seems to appear in their mandate?

Andrew Watts