News

Columbus back as LPRCA chair

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Long Point Region Conservation Authority logo

Long Point Region Conservation Authority logo

SIMCOE  - 

Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus is back in the saddle again at the Long Point Region Conservation Authority.

Port Rowan Coun. Noel Haydt was nominated for a second term as chair of the LPRCA at the authority’s inaugural meeting of 2018 Wednesday but declined to allow his name to stand.

Haydt had a busy year in the chair through 2017. Friday, Haydt said he can better serve the needs of his constituents as a regular board member rather than as moderator of board discussions and proceedings.

“I refused to accept it,” Haydt said. “Back in the day, most of the chairs only stayed on in that position for one term. I don’t like being in the chair because you can’t really get involved with the debate.”

Columbus had served two terms as LPRCA chair prior to his re-appointment Wednesday. Columbus said Haydt’s position is understandable given that the LPRCA is heavily involved with lakeshore issues.

“A lot of the issues are down along the lakeshore and his ward is along the lakeshore,” Columbus said. “The chair is a tough position for him to be in.”

Haydt has found it frustrating on those occasions when he wants to speak about issues in his ward but can’t because he had to be seen as an even-handed moderator of discussion.

Despite procedural obstacles, Haydt said 2017 was a productive year for the LPRCA.

Highlights include devising emergency access and egress plans for Long Point and Turkey Point in the case of severe storms and flooding events. This has been on the authority’s to-do list since 1989 and had become a sticking point on the approval of lakeshore development plans in recent years.

Under his watch, the authority updated personnel policies and came up with a long-term maintenance plan for the 13 dams and water-control structures under LPRCA jurisdiction.

Haydt also made the development of business plans for the authority’s conservation area campgrounds a priority. Haydt was surprised no one had thought to do this in the past given the money-making potential of these assets.

Over the past year, the authority also enacted a set of consistent rules for anyone wishing to undertake projects along the lakeshore, waterfront areas and near wetlands. Long Point property owners were also give the greenlight to undertake shoreline protection measures now that wave erosion is again a problem in the resort community.

Haydt hands off the baton at a delicate time in the authority’s history. LPRCA general manager and secretary-treasurer Cliff Evanitski has been on paid leave since last fall due to a formal complaint.

The LPRCA board has entrusted the investigation of the matter to the chair and vice chair. The Ministry of Labour is also involved in the investigation. Haydt and other staff members have been extra busy overseeing the day-to-day affairs of the LPRCA during Evanitski’s absence.

Haydt was scheduled to provide the board an update on the Evanitski file at Wednesday’s meeting. Columbus said there was little new to report and that he will pick up where Haydt left off with regard to this situation.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com