August 2016 Bulletin

Full speed ahead on Federal EA Review

The Canadian government is proceeding with the highly anticipated public review of federal environmental assessment (EA) processes. Four members have recently been appointed to the Expert Panel that will be undertaking a public consultation and filing a report in January 2017 on ways to improve the federal EA process. A multi-stakeholder advisory committee has also been established to assist the Expert Panel. CELA submitted comments on the proposed Terms of Reference to the Expert Panel, and we look forward to actively participating in the EA review.

Ontario reviews the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR)

Ontario has launched its long overdue review of the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), which has remained essentially unchanged since it was enacted in 1993. In 2010, CELA filed an Application for Review of the EBR on the grounds that it was outdated and required numerous amendments. In 2011, the Ontario government agreed to review the EBR, but did not formally commence the public review until 2016. Currently, Ontario is soliciting public input on a “discussion guide” that describes various issues which have arisen under the EBR and its regulations. This initial comment period ends in November 2016, and CELA will be working closely with other non-governmental organizations to press for improvements to the EBR.

Time to fix Ontario's broken EA process

As the Canadian government ramps up its review of the federal environmental assessment (EA) process, it's timely and necessary for the Ontario government to review and revise the widely panned provincial EA process. Ontario’s EA Act was enacted in 1975 and overhauled in 1996. However, CELA, stakeholders, practitioners, academics, indigenous communities and the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario have repeatedly raised procedural and substantive concerns about the province’s EA process. Recently, CELA and other environmental groups jointly filed a briefing note with the Ontario government to once again highlight the public interest need to fix virtually all aspects of the problematic program.

ENGOs advise on approach to Long-Term Energy Plan Review

CELA joined several ENGOs in making recommendations to Ontario's Ministry of Energy on the structure of upcoming Long-Term Energy Plan public consultations. We want to ensure that the public is adequately consulted and there's an opportunity to review alternative scenarios for Ontario's energy future. We're encouraging the government to focus on transitioning to a community-based system as envisioned in its Climate Change Action Plan.

Seeking the end of PBDEs in the Great Lakes

CELA commended the International Joint Commission’s Water Quality Board (IJC WQB) on the recent release of its report, which included recommendations on harmful Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in the Great Lakes. CELA supports the IJC WQB's five recommendations for binational efforts to address growing concerns about PBDEs in the Great Lakes.

BLOG: The Ottawa River’s best kept secret

CELA Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan visited the Ottawa River’s waterfront in the town of Deep River, after site tours at Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories and the nuclear demonstration plant near Rolphton, Ontario. A sign at Deep River's waterside park says it is Ontario’s “best kept secret.” It’s all too accurate, she writes. And not in a good way.

Faces of CELA

This month we caught up with CELA board member Lauren Alcorn. In addition to her role with CELA, Lauren works on poverty alleviation through access to water and sanitation projects in India and is based in Montreal with the ONE DROP Foundation. She's also worked for the United Nations Association in Canada and Schools Without Borders. Lauren has lived, studied and worked in Denmark, Cuba, Ghana, India and Central America.

Why did you get involved with CELA?
The work that CELA does in protecting the environment, our health, and law reforms is really interesting and inspiring. To be a member of the board and support the organization in its efforts enables me to be part of something bigger.

What's the path that brought you to CELA?
At the time I joined CELA's board (about 8 years ago), I was working on a nationwide program for youth and the right to water. CELA's work on source water protection and the Walkerton Inquiry helped us understand our civic duty and the essential role that youth need to play in the protection and conservation of this precious life source.

What's the connection between international development and CELA's work?
I am currently working in the WASH (water sanitation and hygiene) sector on projects in Asia, where access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a major challenge. But this dire situation is not limited to the developing world. It's becoming more prevalent across North America. There are many lessons to be learned and a lot of knowledge to be shared among all nations, especially in the years to come.

What's an important environmental regulation you'd like to see implemented in Canada?
When it comes to water source protection, we need to be looking at it from a watershed perspective. It's important to regulate and collaborate with all stakeholders invested in and around the watershed so that we can be part of creating a holistic and comprehensive approach to protection and conservation.

When you're not busy working, what do you like to do?
I travel a lot for work, so when I'm home I like to spend my down time with my two boys doing puzzles, baking, arts and crafts and being silly. They remind me to slow down and be in the moment. Life as a kid is sweet.

Farewell, Erica!

We're sad to say goodbye to Erica Stahl. Erica joined CELA as an articling student and stayed on with us as counsel supporting several of CELA’s litigation files, law reform initiatives, and research projects, including working with the ARCH Disability Law Centre on a soon-to-be-published paper analyzing the legal rights of those affected by multiple chemical sensitivities. CELA staff were among many of Erica’s fans supporting her successful participation in the epic Friends for Life Bike Rally from Toronto to Montreal this summer. Our loss is Vancouver's gain. We wish her all the best!