Gary Zalepa’s days as a board member of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority are limited, but it was only intended to be an interim position, he said.
When the previous board was dissolved following last fall’s municipal elections, the Niagara Region elected regional councillors, including Zalepa, to an interim NPCA board that would address governance issues.
One issue was the recommendation in an auditor general’s report to elect skilled citizen board members rather than politicians. The interim board was elected for three months, a period which was then extended.
Each Niagara municipality has the right to put forward an appointee, to be approved by the Region. Some municipalities have already replaced their regional councillor with a local resident, and some have chosen for their councillors to continue on the board. The Region wants to see a balance of both, said Zalepa.
In the case of Niagara-on-the-Lake, he said, the municipality has advertised for a resident with the appropriate skills, and he expects an appointment to be confirmed in July.
“I’ve always been clear my job was to help get the board straightened out,” he said.
While there was discussion at Regional council of letting the current interim board stand until work on the governance and budget issues could be completed, the decision was made to move ahead with replacing the councillors as intended, said Zalepa.
Regional council wants to complete the transition so the NPCA can move forward with new board members that can be trained and brought up to speed together, not piece-meal, he said.
The issues that need to be worked out, such as staffing, the budget process, and governance, are moving along and should be completed before the new board takes over, said Zalepa.
Meanwhile, the board has restored funding for some of the projects that had been cancelled by the previous members, and will allow work that addresses soil erosion and flooding protection in One, Two and Four Mile Creeks to resume, he said.