First of all, congratulations to Niagara Parks Commissioners for voting in favour of opening their meetings to the public and the media. Quite a novel idea for public lands, we guess.
Vince Kerrio made the motion that was supported by his colleagues. This was the right thing to do and should have been done a long time ago. This newspaper has been calling for this type of openness and transparency for years.
But Kerrio’s rationale for calling the vote – because he felt he (and fellow commissioners) have been unjustly criticized lately -is curious, to say the least.
They have been criticized for not being open and transparent, which they haven’t been.
They have been criticized for being an old boys’ club, which they have been and still are, since Ontario Tourism Minister Monique Smith contravened her own commissioned KPMG report by reappointing several existing commissioners.
They have been criticized for awarding a 25-year, multi-million-dollar contract to The Maid of The Mist Company, calling into question whether or not they got the best deal. And now they are being forced by the provincial tourism minister to put that deal to tender.
What else is there to criticize? Well, we don’t know just yet, since complete financial statements at the NPC have always lagged years behind the calendar everyone else follows.
How much profit or loss has the NPC shown? Is the multi-million-dollar Fury making money and was the investment worth it? How are the Legends and Whirlpool golf courses doing financially? What was the aversion to working with the City of Niagara Falls for a monorail people-mover system? What is the status of the Mike Weir Winery to have been built on parks lands?
All of these questions and more will soon be answered, we hope.
For example, how will the commission handle the Maid of The Mist tendering process, which the province has wrongly dumped back into NPC’s lap? How will the commission ensure the process is open and fair, having twice awarded the contract to the current boat operators?
Further, how and when will the NPC and Smith begin to adopt the recommendations from the KPMG report?
he scrutiny will only get more and more intense, which it should.
With all of this on the horizon, it was a brave decision for the commissioners to finally pull back the curtain of secrecy after years of resistence. Again, commissioners should be congratulated for the move.
But it was about time.
This article was originally published here