Community Liaison Advisory Committee Meeting (CLAC)
Held: May 14 2015; 5:30 p.m.
3292 Sixth Avenue, Jordan, ON – Ball’s Falls Centre for Conservation
Committee Members In attendance:
Bruce Timms, Chair, NPCA
Committee Member Regrets
Mary Lou Tanner
Carmen D’Angelo, CAO
Peter Graham, Director, Watershed Management
David Barrick, Sr. Manager, Operations
Brian Wright, Manager, Watershed Projects
Kerry Royer, Community Outreach Coordinator
Kim Frohlich, Ecologist
Deanna Lindblad, Restoration Project Lead
Ray Tufgar, AECOM
The meeting was called to order by J. Whyte., CLAC Co-Chair at 5:51 PM and he welcomed all in attendance
Resignation of Committee member Dean Ostryhon
Dean Ostryhon submitted a letter of resignation on Tuesday May 12th 2015. B. Timms spoke with Dean this week and Dean has taken on new responsibilities at work and no longer feels that he has the appropriate time to dedicate to this committee. Dean wished the Committee much success in carrying out their roles and responsibilities. Dean represented one of the three Public-at-large seats, the NPCA will attempt to have this filled by the August meeting.
Code of Conduct and Confidentiality Agreement submission
J.Whyte asked that all members submit their code of conduct and confidentiality agreements (signed) to K. Royer. M. Edwards refused to sign the documents because he felt the public had a right to know what happened at the NPCA and the CLAC meetings. C. D’Angelo explained the role of the NPCA and the Board of Directors and that although most of the time our meetings will be public, there are certain times (land acquisition discussions, staff matters, etc.) where the Board has the right to go in-camera to discuss sensitive matters. A discussion followed. J. Whyte concluded by saying that if anyone is unwilling to sign the confidentiality agreement they will be asked to leave during confidential discussions.
NPCA Watershed Management Update
P. Graham provided an update on the provincial policy review, the review of NPCA policies, and the NPCA permit fees review.
Provincial Plan review: staff report put together by Suzanne McInnes going to board on May 20th and will be posted on the website as public document after the Board meeting. A table highlighting major themes was put together based on our consultation process (CLAC, Board, staff, municipal partners). Summarized in tabular form – themes, opportunities,etc. P.Graham brought a printout of the table for CLAC members to read if they were interested. Tight timelines were set by the province for this coordinated review. Province has held town hall meetings to get more input from the general public. There is another meeting coming up on May 21st in Beamsville (public meeting with agricultural community). NPCA’s comments due to province on May 27th 2015. A. Garofalo asked if the comments were specific to the three plans, P. Graham confirmed that they are.
NPCA planning policies review: Staff are getting close to coming to the CLAC for review of the policies. The NPCA sent out an RFP, we received 2 proposals; we are going through the selection process. The staff recommendation will go to the Board at the June meeting. Stakeholder consultation is going to be highly important. Lots of interaction with stakeholders, keeping CLAC informed, etc. Proposals are purposely putting heavy wait on stakeholder/public consultation.
A. Garofalo asked if the requests for proposals were sent out to preferred companies? P. Graham replied that the RFPs were sent out to 3 consultants and RFP was posted on our website and open to any other proposals. One of the three declined to send in a proposal and we have two solid proposals.
There was a question about when we will see the new policies implemented, P. Graham responded likely not until Spring/Summer 2016.
NPCA permit fees review : An initial report was prepared a few months ago but had to be put on back burner because of provincial policy review. Late Q3/Q4 we will come back with update for CLAC. The review needs to be focused on staff effort so fees can be set accordingly. The intent is a percentage of cost recovery – balance between effort of staff and consumer needs
L. Campbell asked if the NPCA is looking at its fees in terms of municipal fees, etc. based on all the fees associated with a permit. P.Graham confirmed that we are. A. Garofalo asked if any other Conservation Authorities have come close to cost recovery, P.Graham replied that they’ve seen about 2/3 recovery in other CAs. J.Whyte added a comment that the focus should not be just on cost recovery, but also on an efficient review process. P. Graham also noted that we will be getting a development tracking tool.
Watershed Gap Analysis comment/feedback session
Ray Tufgar, the consultant from AECOM hired to conduct the Watershed Gap Analysis project did a short presentation to the CLAC group highlighting the differences between watershed and sub-watersheds and how they are used for planning, stewardship, etc. R. Tufgar has over 40 years of experience in watershed planning across North America and stated that he thought Ontario was very forward thinking when it comes to watershed plans and watershed management as the approach is more comprehensive, not problem specific like some other parts of North America.
Watershed plans – working with regional municipal plan, used for stewardship/restoration
Sub-watershed plans – in support of secondary plans, looking at urban growth, lower level of analysis, water quality analysis, fisheries assessments, future changes in landuse, etc. Used when developing draft plans (precede development).
R. Tufgar asked for comments/feedback from the group with regards to gaps in the current watershed plans. These can include areas of problem flooding, pollution input, algae blooms, low water levels, etc. The purpose of the Gap Analysis project is to determine if the current plans are meeting the needs of the NPCA and the community and to determine if they have the proper level of detail. He needs public input on key issues in the various watersheds/sub-watersheds in Niagara. R. Tufgar noted that one of the biggest issues from a water supply standpoint is toxicity from blue/green algae blooms.
Feedback/Comments from CLAC:
L. Campbell asked if the plan was to update the completed watershed plans or is it also to complete the ones that have not been completed/started. R. Tufgard clarified that the purpose of the Gap Analysis is to determine the state of where things are right now, what are the gaps and what will be needed to carry on. C. D’Angelo also noted that during the strategic planning process Dr. John Bacher suggested that we continue the watershed planning process (February 19 2014 NPCA Board Meeting Minutes).
J. Whyte commented that in noting there are likely limited resources for this type of project, will the NPCA be prioritizing watershed plans, i.e. are there problem areas, or areas with significant development pressure that should be covered first. B. Wright commented that AECOM will be helping with prioritization. J. Whyte also asked if CLAC was the best suited to determine what the gaps are or would it be better for AECOM to present us with the gaps and then CLAC could comment on them. B. Timms replied that the Board is very interested in what the public considers to be gaps. R. Tufgar further commented that public input is a very important part of the process. M. Edwards asked if watershed planning is getting better why are things getting worse. R. Tufgar commented that the technology is changing and so is the climate. He noted that a recent study found that floodplain lines could increase by as much as 40% in the future due to climate change. He also noted that part of watershed planning is the protection of life, and property protection is secondary to this. M. Edwards noted that he has found an increase in flooding in Twelve Mile Creek as a result of the development in Fonthill. He noted that development is increasing water in streams which is against the drainage act, greenhouse operations that are covered in glass are also contributing to increased flooding – where is all the water going when it rains?
J. Whyte commented that there should be a more proactive approach with watershed plans, as in, if there is a gap in an area slated for development, having a detailed study done ahead of time and done early would be ideal for not delaying construction/permitting process. There is big developments likely coming to the Lincoln/Grimsby area and there are no watershed plans there to date. If the plan is not there it is difficult to guide development. J.Whyte noted that the Region is going through their growth management plan, the NPCA should touch base with them to see where they are targeting growth as this will likely be relevant to watershed planning process. Finally, in response to an earlier comment by M. Edwards about development causing flooding, J. Whyte noted that stormwater ponds, sewers, etc. are put in place to curb flood water in any new development.
Timms made a comment that the 100 year flood line doesn’t apply anymore, R. Tufgar noted that the province is considering changing the standards. B. Timms (and J. Whyte) asked if the watershed studies would be capturing things like basement flooding (a big problem in St. Catharines last year). R. Tufgar acknowledged that ideally we would look at all of that, however with budget and time constraints the study can only look at the flooding, not necessarily what caused it. For example, the Gap Analysis project will look at whether or not that area was identified in the watershed plan as an area that was at risk of flooding. B. Timms also asked about the issue surrounding floodplain lines in central and lower Welland River, the canal siphons and the backflow cause significant issues on this system, and asked if these issues are being looked at. R. Tufgar if there are relationships between what is going to be done and what is going on in that watershed, the floodplain study may affect the watershed study but there are other components of the watershed study also. C. D’Angelo commented that the Board is committed to looking at the overall health of the river in addition to the floodplain mapping.
Committee members are asked to submit any additional comments to Kerry by May 28th 2015
Woodlot Management at Wainfleet Wetlands presentation
C. D’Angelo introduced Dan Drennan, Kim Frohlich and Deanna Lindblad. He noted that he received feedback from nature clubs and community groups about the woodlot management that was done at Wainfleet Wetlands and that he received a series of questions about this activity. K. Frohlich, D. Drennan and D. Lindblad collectively put together the responses to the questions and have tentatively scheduled a meeting for June 4th with the nature clubs.
D. Drennan gave a short presentation on the woodlot management in Wainfleet Wetlands Conservation Area. He noted that a silviculture prescription and tree marking was done ahead of the harvest and that a permit was obtained for the work. Of note was that only 31 trees were removed from the property and that of those 31 trees, 24 were less than 19”/49cm. Most of the large trees were left behind as parent trees. J.Whyte asked if there was a benefit to the remaining trees by thinning the woodlot. D. Drennan responded that the thinning allows more light in for new seedlings by opening the canopy, makes more nutrients and water available.
A. Garofalo noted that Wainfleet Wetlands are one of the largest properties owned by the NPCA and that it mostly consists of a retired quarry but that the woodlot has been for many years, evidenced through 1934 air photos showing a healthy mature forest. He also noted that he appreciated the presentation given and the questions that were answered. A. Garofalo went through a list of trees that he and other members of the nature club measured at Wainfleet Wetlands after the cut. He noted that there were a number of old growth trees removed and listed the sizes that he measured and the age of the trees, determined by counting tree rings. D. Drennan clarified that they were measuring at different parts of the tree, he was measuring DBH (diameter at breast height) and A. Garofalo would have been measuring at the stump level where the tree is at its widest. A. Garofalo commented that that is true; however the tree rings are the same indicating the age of the tree. A. Garofalo said that there was an existing Managed Forest Plan (MFP) for 2/3 of the Wainfleet Wetlands property that called for the preservation of the old-growth trees and extending the trails and that the prescription written by our Registered Professional Forester did not take into account the MFP. D. Drennan said he was unaware that an MFP existed for the site but that MFP was not a prerequisite to getting a permit.
C. D’Angelo noted that in D. Drennan’s presentation he stated that the larger trees that were removed showed signs of defects. J.Whyte re-stated D. Drennan’s earlier comment that a significant number of large old trees remain on the property. He also mentioned that there will be a separate meeting with the nature clubs on this matter. D. Lindblad offered the following: under the current Niagara Region Tree and Forest Conservation Bylaw there is no protection for old-growth trees, the concern of the nature clubs should be with the bylaw, not with this cut. The NPCA followed the rules, there was minimal damage left behind. B. Timms stated that we can understand the public’s concern about the age of trees being cut down and that it might be helpful when reporting on this type of woodlot management to not only report on what was cut, but also on what has been left behind. A. Garofalo said the main concern for the nature clubs and environmental group is the public perception that the NPCA is logging and generating funds in this way. C. D’Angelo said that yes funds were generated and they went back to our ecologist for use in our Conservation Areas. A. Garofalo asked one final question about the permit, D. Drennan confirmed that the permit was posted just like the one for the neighbouring property but that it had been removed.
DRAFT 2015 NPCA Land Management Plan for review/feedback
D. Barrick and K. Frohlich noted that the CLAC members have had the information for the DRAFT Land Management Plan for about 3 months (since the February meeting) and that they had been asked to submit comments/questions to Kerry. D. Barrick and K. Frohlich were wanting to collect any additional comments/questions/feedback from this group. Ideally, they were looking for feedback on the proposed acquisition criteria in particular. D. Barrick went through the first set of questions distributed to the group – these were questions/comments submitted by CLAC members ahead of the meeting. One of the questions/responses was with regards to comparing the NPCA and the Region, D. Barrick noted that we need to keep in mind that these are two separate organizations. B. Timms said that although they are two separate organizations, the Board is largely made up of Regional politicians and it may be difficult for them to separate between Region and NPCA strategies for land acquisitions for that reason. K. Frohlich went through the second set of comments/feedback submitted by another CLAC member. L. Campbell asked if the existing lands will be evaluated using the new criteria once it is approved. D. Barrick said that in Phase 2, the NPCA will weigh existing properties against the new criteria. J.Whyte asked if evaluation process will assess environmental significance for properties not otherwise protected by other legislation, will the process provide clarity so there isn’t as much subjectivity. D. Barrick remarked that this is a big debate, if the land is already provincially protected than why buy it, if it is not provincially protected it must not be significant so why buy it? D. Barrick noted that our evaluation system is different from the province in that recreation and education are also part of our mandate.
D. Barrick emphasized that we want feedback on the six (6) new criteria that were proposed and that some of the other options to consider would be a weighting/scoring system. K. Frohlich asked if the criteria was enough and referred to the 2007 Land Acquisition Strategy where there were different weightings based on different ecological features – this could help reduce subjectivity.
J. Whyte asked where we go from here in terms of getting recommendations to the Board. D. Barrick stated that it will be up CLAC to make collaborated recommendations to be forwarded to the NPCA Board for its consideration. M. Edwards asked why the NPCA would consider purchasing more lands as we already own a large amount of property. B. Timms noted that the intention of the criteria is to put an analysis in front of the Board, there may be some subjectivity involved, but the criteria allows us to evaluate and consider all factors. This way the NPCA can buy lands instead of confiscating land rights without compensation, it is a balance. Board will make the decision at the end of the day.
D. Barrick said that if there is not a collaborative recommendation then all the comments can get taken to the Board level. B. Timms offered that it may be helpful to give the Committee a deadline for comment submission. C. D’Angelo said the next Board meeting is June 17th and we would need comments before then. A. Garofalo said he appreciated this approach as he would still like to provide comments and asked how much of the Draft plan can be shared with nature clubs that he represents – D. Barrick noted that this is a public document and can be shared. Because of low attendance at the CLAC meeting it was decided that individual comments will be best. L. Campbell asked that a very short list with only the criteria be circulated to the group and that the deadline should be given for comments/feedback – quick turn-around.
NOTE: After the meeting D. Barrick circulated an email to all CLAC members and gave a deadline of May 29th for comments/feedback on this matter
Kerry will circulate a Doodle Poll for next meeting date in August and the next meeting will be held at Henry of Pelham winery in St. Catharines.
There being no further business the meeting was adjourned at 8:38 PM