Intervenor: vol. 27, no. 3 - 4, July - December 2002

CELA in the Courts - Update on OMYA's Appeal

CELA is representing local citizens in relation to an appeal by OMYA Canada Inc. (OMYA) to the Minister of Environment and to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court). OMYA is appealing a decision by the Environmental Review Tribunal in relation to its Permit to Take Water. This case is the first time in which a third party appeal under Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights proceeded to a full hearing.

After hearing the testimony of numerous witnesses including the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Mr. Gord Miller, and reviewing countless documentary evidence, the Tribunal decided to limit the amount of water-taking. OMYA had sought a Permit to Take Water for 4,500 cubic meters per day for ten years. The Tribunal, however, decided to limit the taking to 1,483 cubic meters per day for six years. The Tribunal was not satisfied that sufficient information had been gathered and tabulated for the approval of the full amount of water that had been sought by the company. At the hearing, the witnesses from the regulatory agencies, including the MOE Director, were of the opinion that there was insufficient data to support OMYA's increased water taking in the amount of 4,500 cubic meters per day. The Water Management Coordinator from the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and a biologist from the Ministry of Natural Resources also testified in support of the Director's position with regard to the inadequacy of OMYA's data.

CELA brought a motion before the Minister of Environment to allow the Divisional Court to proceed prior to the ministerial appeal. CELA's clients were of the view that since OMYA was raising a number of significant legal issues, it would be of benefit to the Minister to have the Court render its decision first on the case. However, the Minister decided that he would hear the appeal first. All the parties including CELA have filed submissions with the Minister and are awaiting a decision.

Ramani Nadarajah is a lawyer at CELA