By NATE SMELLE
Protesters showed up early to Ball’s Falls Centre for Conservation on Wednesday morning to voice their discontent with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s (NPCA) controversial code of conduct. Lincoln Regional Councillor Bill Hodgson also turned up before the meeting to express his dissatisfaction with the NPCA in his own way — by resigning from the board.
Since the integrity of the NPCA board fell under scrutiny for its support of biodiversity offsetting and questionable hiring and firing practices, Hodgson has been seen by many in the region as the only board member making a sincere effort to rebuild the public’s trust in the Authority. Hodgon indicated in a Facebook post that he was resigning for the sake of his family and health after being bullied and harassed by his fellow board members.
Ed Smith, a community activist and environmentalist who was slapped with a lawsuit by the NPCA for drawing attention to the board’s alleged development-before-conservation stance, sat quietly in the back of the hall watching the proceedings. Catching up with Smith after the meeting, he said Councillor Hodgson’s resignation was unfortunate but understandable.
“He has consistently been the single voice on that board to challenge them and struggle to keep the NPCA accountable to the people,” said Smith.
“No person could be expected to stand up to the bullying and harassment he says he was put through. Bill was the peoples’ champion on that Board, he was the beacon of integrity. I am calling on every citizen in Niagara to remember the ‘NPCA 11’ when it comes time to vote provincially in June 2018 and municipally in October 2018. The eleven elected officials on the NPCA Board as well as David Barrick, who took a senior management position while a sitting Board member and Regional Councillor, need to be held accountable.”