• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Watson at golf tourney while NVCA directors decide to keep him as chair

In Adjala-Tosorontio
Aug 23rd, 2019
NVCA's Doug Hevenor, Keith White and Donna Jebb

NVCA CAO Doug Hevenor and Vice-Chairs Keith White and Donna Jebb. -AWARE Simcoe photo

UPDATED Sept. 28 2019

Discussion of Yurek letter cut short 

By Kate Harries AWARE News Network

Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority directors have decided Wasaga Beach Councillor George Watson will continue to serve as their chair.

The matter was dealt with behind closed doors today. No statement or explanation was provided.

At their June meeting, some directors suggested that Watson’s position at the helm was compromised after he supported a Wasaga Beach council resolution that called for the dissolution of the NVCA and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.

“It was dealt with. And I have no further comment, it was handled in closed session,” said Vice-Chair Keith White, an Essa councillor.

Watson was not present at the meeting. 

Asked where Watson was, White said he was at “the Nottawasaga annual golf tournament and two weeks ago he asked me to chair the meeting, he was unable to attend, I believe it’s a fundraiser for a number of charities.”

White said he could not answer further questions because a staff appreciation barbecue was scheduled to start. “Our staff is very important to us and I must go,” he said.

He did confirm that Watson remains in his position: “He is still the chair.”

AWARE Simcoe had previously asked for release of a copy of a letter written by the NVCA to Watson in reply to his July 8 letter stating that he would not resign.

White and corporate services director Sheryl Flannagan said they would have to discuss whether to release the letter and would provide an answer next week. When asked for an answer today, Flannagan said that would not be possible because of the staff appreciation barbecue which was about to start, at noon.

UPDATE – NVCA letter was released to AWARE Simcoe on September 4, 2019. It can be found here: Letter to GW

Earlier there was a brief discussion of the controversial ’‘to whom it may concern’ letter that Environment Minister Jeff Yurek sent last Friday evening to the email addresses of the CAOs of conservation authorities across Ontario. The letter suggests they “wind down’ activities outside the scope of their core mandate.

White took 15 minutes to read out the minister’s letter as well as a response from Conservation Ontario and a response from NVCA CAO Doug Hevenor.

The ensuing discussion lasted all of five minutes. It ended with White cutting short Adjala-Tosorontio Deputy Mayor Bob Meadows when he started to criticize Hevenor’s letter.

“The subject is not that letter,” White said, insisting that discussion focus on the communication from the province.

After silencing Meadows, White invited further comment but no one spoke and the board moved in camera.

2 Responses to “Watson at golf tourney while NVCA directors decide to keep him as chair”

  1. laura gail smith says:

    I find the position that the NVCA took with keeping George Watson as chair hypocritical, to say the least. Shame on them for not standing up to what is right including Watson’s threats and bullying towards other members of the NVCA.

  2. Maggie Curran says:

    Letter posted on the AWARE Essa face book page by Joric Simard:
    Joric Simard here is my letter… It is inspired from the NVCA letter.
    Dear Minister Yurek,
    I am writing in response to your letter dated August 16, 2019 requesting to all the conservation authorities to start shutting down any programs not related to their “core mandate” as outlined in the More Homes, More Choice Act (Bill 108) and not proceed with any increases to fees or levies. I was shocked and frustrated when I heard about this.
    The different conservation authorities have safe guarded our watershed communities from natural hazards including flooding and erosion for numerous years. They have protected our drinking water and generated millions of dollars for environmental restoration and enhancement projects within our member municipalities. A healthy environment also supports strong tourism, bringing economy to local communities.
    None of this would be possible without the integration of all of their programs, including natural hazard management, monitoring, forestry, stewardship and education. The separation and “winding down” of these programs has the potential to cause long term impacts to watershed ecological health and increase flooding and erosion. Consequential economic impacts could affect key areas such as recreation, agriculture, municipal infrastructure, and public health. Now more than ever, this effective and efficient approach to integrated watershed management is paramount and to not continue would be a serious step backwards and put our watershed in grave danger.
    The importance of conservation authorities is evident when looking at watersheds without conservation authorities. A prime example is Muskoka/Bracebridge which suffered from catastrophic flooding two years in a row. This resulted in an injection of $5 million, up to $10 million from the Province to find a solution. Your letter jeopardizes Ontario’s environmental future and economic prosperity. Future costs to restore Ontario’s economic and environmental balance have and will far exceed the cost of the programs that the Ford Government seems intent on eliminating.
    In light of the fact that your government funds less than 2% of of some of these organizations like NVCA’s budget, I question the Province’s authority to make this request. There has been no consultation with those conservation authorities or our municipal representatives as they are the ones who ensure that their programs are responsive to local needs.
    Therefore, I disagree with your request and I hope that those conservation authorities will continue the good work they do as directed by their member municipalities to advocate for the conservation and protection of our environment and helps build a healthy economy for the future generations.

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