About Us

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A Better Niagara is a non-partisan, non-profit organization with a mandate to encourage civic engagement and municipal public participation in Niagara. The group was founded by a coalition of local residents frustrated by the nature of politics in Niagara who joined together to offer a new vision for politics in our communities.

Drawn together by a mutual desire to see integrity, transparency and accountability in municipal politics we are committed to a Niagara that is more democratic, more equal and more open. We empower local residents who share a common vision for A Better Niagara. Whether residents choose to run for office or simply want their voice heard in the decisions made about their own communities, our group will support and encourage everyday citizens who want more accessible, accountable and honest government leaders who, above all, serve the needs of the residents who put them in power.

 

Key Figures

A Better Niagara is run by a steering committee and also features several subcommittees that are made up by a number of Niagara citizens. Our membership is inclusive and non-partisan. Meet some of our key figures:

Ed Smith, Executive Director

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Ed Smith serves as Executive Director of A Better Niagara. Born and raised in St. Catharines, Ed joined the Canadian Forces in his early 20s. He served Canada in many regions of the world before retiring in 2011 after 25 years of service at the rank of Major. He currently lives in Port Dalhousie.
 
In 2015, Ed became involved in the struggle to save Thundering Waters, 484 acres of pristine swamp forest and meadowland in Niagara Falls from development. As a direct result, he authored a report that was critical of local elected officials and drew attention to many questionable practices within governance in Niagara. In response to this report, he was sued for defamation by the Board of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), made up primarily of Regional Councillors and Mayors, and by the current CAO of the Region (former NPCA CAO) Carmen D’Angelo. In 2017, an Ontario Superior Court Justice threw the case against him out of court, stating in part: "I have heard of places in the world where things like [the government using the legal system to silence citizens] take place, but not in my beloved Dominion". The report Ed authored eventually resulted in a multi-level investigation into the NPCA that will culminate in a report from the Auditor General of Ontario before the end of 2018. 
 
Ed's unique experience, of having a Canadian government attempt to sue him into silence,  motivated him to join A Better Niagara, along with his observation of their casual disrespect for our shared environment, and the serious level of disrespect and dysfunction he saw within Niagara's governance.
 
Outside of A Better Niagara, Ed is also the founder of an international non-governmental organization (International Children's Awareness) and has been on the Board for 25 years. He volunteers his time working both locally in Niagara and internationally in different African nations. He and his wife Margaret have three children who live across Canada.

 

Liz Benneian, Director

Liz Benneian is a former journalist and newspaper editor who has been leading advocacy and environmental educational organizations since 2004. Active in her community, Liz has volunteered with several service groups and has provided help and advice to community-led groups around the Province and abroad. Liz has also volunteered on four successful municipal council candidate campaign teams here and in her previous community.

After leading a successful fight against a planned incinerator in Niagara, Liz became concerned about the lack of good governance, especially at the Regional level, in this area. She is pleased to be a part of A Better Niagara, a group of citizens who are working to engage and inform citizens and to support and endorse good candidates in the next municipal election.


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