Nina Bifolchi

Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority Update

Once again (one would think there is an election coming soon!) a small handful are using social media to discredit me, this time in my role at the NVCA. Here are a few of the comments;

Laura Black-Smith wrote in reference to a 2014 AWARE Group article; “seems she stirs up trouble wherever she goes.”

Shirley Anderson-Beere wrote; “If you want to see how Ms. Bifolchi would be if she was Mayor, follow her term as chairperson on the NVCA Board. It’s not a pretty picture and it makes very interesting and eye opening reading.”

Here is a bit of history regarding my time on the NVCA Board of Directors.

The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) is your public agency dedicated to the preservation of a healthy environment. The NVCA provides the expertise to help protect our water, our land, our future.

I have been the Town of Wasaga Beach representative on the NVCA Board of Directors for the past 7 years. I have been a voting member, Vice-Chair, Chair and Past Chair.

Over the years many, including myself, felt that the pendulum had swung too far one way and land owners rights were being taken away and questions were raised as to whether the NVCA was overstepping their boundaries. The legislation, roles and responsibilities had become unclear to most.

During my time at the NVCA, working along with staff, we were able to create a chart that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of the NVCA. Clarity was given on when the NVCA are the approval authority on a matter or a commenting agency. When they are the approval authority the municipality must respect the decision. If they provide comments under their commenting role then the municipality can takes them under consideration. The chart can be found by following this link;

https://www.nvca.on.ca/Shared%20Documents/NVCA%20Planning%20and%20Regulatory%20Roles%20Chart.pdf

During my time as chair, the majority of the board agreed to undertake an efficiency review of the organization. Many steps in the review process took place during 2014, an election year. My opponent in the election and some others took the opportunity to attempt to discredit my intentions. At one point one special interest group, who I believe had taken my opponent under their wing, referred to me in an article as the “fox running the hen house.”

I noticed a lot of dirty play during the 2014 election that I had never witnessed in previous elections. It was a very long year! The safe thing for me to do would have been to sit quiet, forgo the efficiency review and secure my seat in the 2014 election………however, that’s not true leadership…….in fact some would call it cowardly. I chose to do the right thing for the organization. If I lost the election because of standing my ground and doing what was right, I had still made a positive contribution to the NVCA with my morals and integrity in-tact.

We were very fortunate to be able to hire at the time the “almost retired” CAO from Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Gayle Wood. Gayle was exactly what our organization needed to not only deal with the recommendations the efficiency review had supported, but she also brought life back in to the building and boosted staff morale.

I had a staff member come to me later on and say that they “had no idea it could be this good.” Gayle gave staff the support and direction they needed all while promoting respect for land owners rights for their properties. She was the balance that had been missing for years and the NVCA is a better organization today because of her involvement.

I am proud of the work I along with my fellow board members and NVCA staff have accomplished. I would like to point out that as of today the NVCA Board is a smaller, more efficient, cost effective board than it was before. We are reaching more people throughout our watershed educating them on the importance of being environmentally friendly. We have made headway with special interest groups as well as land owners and developers to open the lines of communication and in some cases mend past relationships and misunderstandings. We have clarified the role of the NVCA.

I would also like to point out that some board members who showed concern during the efficiency review process later publicly stated that it was the right thing to do and even thanked me for the work I did.

Thank you to Shirley, Laura and others who continue to keep me on my toes! Your slanted postings prompt me to share the truth with others.

The NVCA office is located in Utopia (Essa Township). I encourage you to visit sometime and see all that they have to offer.

www.nvca.on.ca




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