In addition to serving as the Vice Chair on OCWA’s Board of Directors, John Bergsma is currently Chairman of the Board of Pioneering Technology Corp. He also sits on the Boards of St. Catharines Hydro Inc. (Vice Chair – Generation) and Horizon Utilities Corp. John served as President of Lennox Canada Inc., President and CEO of Union Gas Limited, President of Massey Ferguson Research Ltd., and Columbus McKinnon Limited. He also served on the Boards of Directors of CFM Corp., various natural gas utilities, pipeline companies and industry associations, including the Executive Committee of the Board of the International Gas Union. John is the past Chair of the Board of the Niagara Health System Foundation and served over 20 years on the Board of Governors of the University of Waterloo, including a term as Board Chair. He also served as Commissioner of Corporate Services for Niagara Region, on the Boards of the Stratford Festival of Canada, Ontario Great Lakes Renewal Foundation, the Canadian Urban Institute, and various United Ways across Ontario.
OCWA’s Organization & People
Board of Directors
Members of OCWA's Board of Directors are appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council. OCWA's Board is made up of qualified independent members and senior executives employed with the Ontario government. Together, the Board has collective expertise in managing private sector and municipal corporations, including utilities, overseeing various levels of government, and advising on regulatory matters related to the environment and drinking water.
John Bergsma, Acting Chair
Melanie Debassige has over 17 years of experience in Aboriginal Economic Development. She is currently employed with the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations as the Chief of Staff. She obtained a Diploma in Native Management and Economic Development from Trent University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario. She also has a certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo and is a certified Professional Aboriginal Economic Developer with the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers. Melanie held the elected position of Councillor with the M’Chigeeng First Nation Chief and Council for eight years and was appointed as a police commissioner with the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Police Services for seven years. She also holds a position as Director on the Mother Earth Renewable Energy Board that oversees the for-profit wind turbine corporation that is solely owned by M’Chigeeng First Nation. Melanie has also served on the Great Spirit Circle Trail Board of Directors, a not-for-profit destination marketing organization. Melanie was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor to the Ontario Clean Water Agency Board of Directors in October 2013, where she leads the Board’s First Nations Task Force. Melanie completed the Director’s Education Program at the Rotman School of Management and is now a certified corporate director. She also has a Master’s in Business Administration. Melanie was just recognized by the Canadian Board Diversity Council in the Diversity 50, which recognizes fifty Board ready candidates across Canada.
Jon leads Cleantech Venture Services at MaRS, assisting innovative Ontario-based companies in growing their businesses. He is also part of the Management Board of the Advanced Energy Centre, a public-private partnership that was co-founded and is hosted by MaRS Cleantech with a focus on innovative domestic energy programs and strengthening international relationships to drive exports, and a member of the Ontario Smart Grid Forum. Jon has an extensive background in early-stage and high-growth alternative energy companies. Prior to joining MaRS, he led business development for Hydrogenics Corporation, where he focused on strategic partnerships, product development, and sales and marketing. He was also involved in the introduction and launch of the company's fuel cell and hydrogen generation divisions. Jon also previously worked with The Pembina Institute, leading corporate-consulting services on low-impact renewable energy and energy policy. In 1997 he co-founded Sustainable Energy Technologies, a leading Canadian provider of power electronics for the solar power industry.
Debbie has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of municipal engineering. She is currently the General Manager, Engineering, Planning and Environment, for Simcoe County. A graduate of the University of Guelph in 1983 with a B.Sc. in Water Resources Engineering, Debbie began her career in consulting engineering working in municipal water and wastewater. In 1991 she joined the Regional Municipality of York as a project engineer, and worked in several positions to eventually become the General Manager, Water and Wastewater in 2005. While at York, she served as a municipal representative on the CTC Source Protection Committee. She was also closely involved with implementation of policies under the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Plan, the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and Source Water Protection Plans. Debbie left York Region in 2008 to pursue a broader career in Public Works with the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, where she worked with staff to develop a strategic plan for the newly formed engineering services department, combining roads, water, wastewater, development engineering and asset management and bringing in-house capital delivery. She joined Simcoe County in April 2013 and has oversight of the Planning, Solid Waste, Roads, Forestry, Economic Development, Tourism and By-Law Departments.
Brenda is the Executive Director for the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC). Since 2011, SOWC has helped water companies access unique facilities for real world demonstration, find the right researcher match across its 10 academic partner institutions and leverage R&D investments. With support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, SOWC has recently established the Advancing Water Technologies fund for collaborative demonstration projects by southern Ontario water companies. As Senior Policy Advisor to two Ontario Ministers of Environment, Brenda played a key role in the introduction and passage of the Water Opportunities Act. She is a member of the Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW Canada).
Debra Sikora has been with the Ontario Public Service for over 26 years, joining the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in 2013. In her current role, she is responsible for overseeing the Food Safety and Environment Division to support the vision of Safe Food, Healthy Animals, and a Healthy Environment. Prior to joining OMAFRA, Debra was the Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Administrative Officer with the Ministry of the Environment. Ms. Sikora earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Geological Engineering from the University of Toronto.
Michael Thorne is a Municipal Consultant with over 50 years of experience in the planning, operation and construction of water, wastewater and solid waste projects. He spent 15 years with the Ministry of the Environment managing the South Peel Water and Sewage System prior to joining the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, where he held a variety of senior positions including the Commissioner of Works with the Metro Works Department. Since then, Michael has provided a variety of consulting services in delivering capital water and wastewater programs for the Regions of Halton, Durham, and Peel and the City of Hamilton. He is currently working with the Region of Halton.
Mitchell brings over 40 years of experience within the Ontario engineering industry to OCWA, including 25 years in senior management positions with the Regional Municipalities of Peel and Halton. During his tenure in the public sector, Mitchell managed operational programs and progressive innovation in a wide range of municipal business areas. As Commissioner of Public Works for the Regions of Peel and Halton, he was responsible for a number of portfolios, including water, wastewater, solid waste, transportation, metering, fleet, Public Works facilities and buildings.
Executive Management Team
Terry Bender, Vice President, Operations
Terry Bender joined OCWA at its inception in 1993 and has been with the Ontario Public Service for 30 years. Before being named VP of Operations in 2016, he held many challenging positions with the Ministry of the Environment & Climate Change and OCWA, including Operations Manager, Capital Works Manager, General Manager and Regional Hub Manager. Terry is a licensed master electrician, licensed well technician and contractor, and holds class 4 certification in water treatment and distribution, as well as a class 3 in wastewater treatment and collection. Terry is a member of the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians & Technologists.
Sav Chawla, Vice President, Information and Information Technology
Sav Chawla is the VP of I&IT and joined OCWA in 2016. Sav brings over 25 years of experience in I&IT having held many roles in the private sector at profit and not-for-profit organizations as well as senior management roles in the Ontario Public Sector. As VP of I&IT, Sav has the responsibility to lead her teams to design and deliver technology solutions that will support the water and wastewater operational needs of a diverse client group.
Courtney Drew, Vice President, Human Resources
Courtney Drew has over 11 years of experience in Human Resources in the OPS. Her career in the OPS began as an HR Consultant at the Ministry of Community and Social Services and she has held progressively responsible positions, showing strong leadership throughout. Courtney has a strong knowledge of and keen interest in employee relations, leadership and employee development. She is instrumental in leading Human Resources to be a strategic business partner and holds an Honours Bachelors of Arts Degree from Queen’s University and a post-graduate certificate in Human Resources from Humber College.
Alicia Fraser, Vice President of Engineering, Capital and Support Services
Alicia Fraser is the VP of Engineering, Capital and Support Services. Before joining OCWA, Alicia held numerous roles including 10 years as a consulting engineer, where she designed and managed water and wastewater plants throughout Ontario.
As the VP of Engineering, Capital and Support Services, Alicia’s job entails guiding the team, providing technical expertise and providing capital solutions support to OCWA's operations so that they can deliver total solutions to our clients.
Richard Junkin, Vice President, Operations
Richard Junkin has been with OCWA since its inception in 1993, most recently as the Regional Hub Manager for the Region of Waterloo. A certified water and wastewater operator, Richard brings more than 20 years of valuable operational experience to his role as VP. He is a former member of OCWA’s emergency response team, having been involved in several emergency response efforts across Ontario. Richard is also proud to have been part of the OCWA Jets, the Agency’s award-winning Operations Challenge team.
Robin Kind, Executive Vice President and General Counsel
Robin Kind joined the Ontario Clean Water Agency in November 1994 and was appointed General Counsel in 2003. In December 2015, Robin was appointed Executive Vice President. Robin’s 25-year legal career spans both the public and private sector. Prior to joining OCWA, she spent several years with leading national law firms in Toronto practicing in the areas of corporate commercial and environmental law. In addition to her legal and Board responsibilities as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Robin also has responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management, Marketing and Communications and Community Outreach. Robin graduated from University of Toronto Law in 1987 and was called to the Bar in 1989.
Nevin McKeown, President
Nevin McKeown has been with OCWA since its inception in 1993 and has been with the Ontario Public Service more than 25 years. Nevin began his career in the Operations group in the South Peel facilities and held progressively responsible positions with OCWA, most recently as Vice President, Operations and as acting President and CEO. He was named President of OCWA on a permanent basis in June 2017. Nevin has led a number of diverse teams and initiatives throughout his career, including the operational integration of $350 million in capital expansion projects at the Peel wastewater facilities. Nevin is a long-time member of the Water Environment Association of Ontario and the Ontario Water Works Association. He holds an Operating Engineer Certificate (Second Class) and a Class Four Wastewater Treatment Certificate.
Prem Rooplal, Vice President, Finance and Corporate Services
Prem Rooplal joined OCWA in 2001 as the Manager of Accounting and Financial Analysis. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Toronto and is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA). Prem is also a Certified Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis professional holding the FP&A certification. Prior to joining OCWA, he worked for 16 years in the private sector in Manufacturing, Construction, Retail and Pharmaceutical Research and Development.