A campaign to remove Lloyd Ferguson as chair of the Hamilton Conservation Authority fell flat Thursday with Ferguson’s unanimous selection for another term as chair. Three of Ferguson’s fellow HCA members including two city council colleagues did not take part in the meeting. Brad Clark, Russ Powers and Susan Fielding sent in a letter that was read out at the beginning of the meeting that stated in part, “We do not wish to be complicit in the acclamation of a chair with whom our conservation allies, foundation donors and several past HCA board and foundation chairs have lost confidence.” Ferguson told the Bay Observer, “I looked up ‘complicit’ in the dictionary and it means, “involved with others in an illegal activity or wrongdoing.” Is that what they are saying about fellow board members?”
After his acclamation Ferguson read an acceptance speech in which he categorically denied the allegations that were made in a public campaign against him in social media and in the Hamilton Spectator, that he was soft on preserving wetlands and that he was cozying up to developers. “Some of these people are misleading the public, “ Ferguson told the Bay Observer. “Show me one example where we have paved over wetlands as some of these critics have claimed—there isn’t one. In fact we have expanded wetlands,” referring to a project underway in Saltfleet. He said that contrary to shrinking natural spaces the HCA has added 177 acres in 2021. He also pointed out that, contrary to a published statement, he did not support a plan to allow development on a wetland on Garner Road, that would have been replaced by a new wetland elsewhere, in a process known as offsetting. “We denied it,” he said, “ but the rules have changed and now Conservation Authority rulings can be appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), and that tribunal has been friendly to developers.” He said he favoured offsetting, because at least it would give the HCA some control over its land use, but now it will be up the OLT to make final decisions. Until changes were made to the Conservation Authority Act by the Ford Government last year, Conservation Authorities had the final say on matters affecting their watersheds.
Members of the Conservation Authority received roughly 200 letters opposing Ferguson’s reappointment. He told the Bay Observer the campaign looked like it was using the same software package that was used to generate thousands of form letters opposing the expansion of the urban boundary. As for the three who abstained from the meeting Ferguson said, “They could have come to the meeting and voted against me—now I’ve been acclaimed unanimously.” He went on to say there were important matters on Thursday’s agenda for consideration by the board including a 100-page draft redevelopment plan for the 50 Point Conservation Area.
Some of Lloyd Ferguson’s remarks to the HCA Board are here: