August 2015 Bulletin

Environmental groups demand censored nuclear risk study

Along with other leading Canadian environmental organizations, CELA asked the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to release a suppressed study detailing the weaknesses of offsite emergency response at the Darlington nuclear station in the event of a Fukushima‐scale accident. In 2014, the CNSC released an accident study and claimed it responded to public concern. But according to an Access to Information request, the public study is profoundly different from the original draft censored by CNSC management. The censored study analyzed the impacts of a Fukushima‐scale accident at Darlington, but when apprised of the results, senior management instructed staff to redraft the study to consider a much smaller accident.

CELA’s recommendations for delineation of Ontario Air Zones

CELA submitted recommendations to Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change on the proposed Air Quality Management System (AQMS). We recommended that the proposed regulations be improved to directly address the issue of environmental equity, the burden of pollution faced in economically disadvantaged communities, and suggested a consultation process to develop an additional air zone delineation.

CELA launches successful appeal to preserve agricultural lands

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has allowed an appeal brought by CELA on behalf of a citizen's group Sustainable Brant, which seeks to preserve agricultural lands and the environment in Brant County. Sustainable Brant had appealed the County's official plan, which had changed the land use designation of some 135 acres of land from agricultural to industrial. The land lies in the "protected agriculture" ribbon in Brant County that encircles Brantford. The County's approval of a zoning by-law change and an industrial subdivision were also overturned by the OMB decision. The thrust of the case brought by CELA and the City of Brantford, which was adopted by the OMB, was that the County had no legal authority to change the agricultural designation of the lands in question under the Planning Act, because the County had failed to reach an agreement with the City on a non-agricultural designation, as required by the Municipal Act.The Board reinstated the original policy designating the lands as agricultural lands until such time as the City of Brantford reached an agreement with the County of Brant that municipal services will be extended for the development.

Sustainable Brant's Board of Directors said that it "was very pleased with the outcome of the case" and expressed its thanks to Mark Dorfman, the planner, who provided expert testimony at the OMB hearing and for CELA's legal representatives who worked on the case: Ramani Nadarajah, Joe Castrilli, and Erica Stahl. The decision was issued on August 6, 2015 and is referenced as Case No(s) PL090536 and PL121070 on the OMB’s website: https://www.omb.gov.on.ca/english/eDecisions/eDecisions.html

BLOG: Don’t bee fooled neonics are still toxic to honeybees

Lisa Gue, a Senior Researcher with the David Suzuki Foundation, contributed a post to our blog explaining the importance of banning neonics to protect bees, despite what you might have recently read in one of Canada's national newspapers.

EVENT: Ontario’s Chemical Valley Toxic Tour in September 2015

A public tour to raise awareness of the impacts of pollution on Aamijiwnaang and Sarnia residents will take place on Saturday September 5, 12 noon. Buses to the event are available from the following cities:
• Toronto: https://www.facebook.com/events/922747637781452/
• Montréal: https://www.facebook.com/events/427557830750855/
• Ottawa: http://www.gofundme.com/yky2dwpg
• Kitchener & Waterloo: https://www.facebook.com/events/513608412137137/
For more information: http://aamjiwnaangsolidarity.com/toxic-tour-2015/

EVENT: The Legal Toolkit Presentation in October 2015

On Tuesday, October 27, CELA and the Sustainability Network will present a one-day training session to educate environmental nonprofits about the legal tools available to protect our air, water, land, and human health. The workshop will be hosted by John Swaigen of Ecojustice. For more information: http://sustainabilitynetwork.ca/the-legal-toolkit/

Faces of CELA: Monica Poremba

Monica Poremba is currently working with CELA as a Donner Fellow through the University of Toronto. In July 2016, Monica will also be our articling student for a year. We caught up with her to learn more!

So what will you be doing at CELA?
As CELA's only articling student, I will be handling legal intake and assisting members of the public with learning their environmental rights, doing research and writing to support counsel for their cases and law reform work, and observing hearings and client meetings.

What’s the path that brought you to CELA?
I started at CELA in May 2015 as a Donner Fellow through the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law. Having spent the previous two years studying at the University of California, Irvine School of Law and spending my summers there in very different practice areas, I knew I wanted to finally spend a summer working in environmental law, so I was very lucky that an opportunity to work on a special project at CELA presented itself. It turned out to be a great choice - the office is amazing, the people are great and the work we do is so important. I couldn't turn down the opportunity to return when the articling position was offered to me.

What inspired you to get involved in environmental law?
I've been interested in the environment since I can remember. In high school, I helped start a recycling club and organized various environmental documentary screenings. For some reason, when I began law school, I tended to keep my personal interests and my legal interests separate. So while I would spend all of my free time watching environmental documentaries on Netflix, I was working in completely different practice areas in school. It wasn't until the end of my second year in California when I was struggling to find an area of the law I wanted to work in that it occurred to me to try environmental law. I focused heavily on environmental law in my first year at U of T and haven't looked back!

What important environmental regulation would you like to see implemented in Canada?
Environmental equity is so important and I'd really l6ike to see either the Canadian government or the Ontario government start taking it seriously. There is so much evidence that those living in poverty face the double burden of both poverty and high levels of air pollution, and yet the Ontario government continually ignores the cumulative impact of pollution in areas like Chemical Valley. My work at CELA as a summer student focused heavily on this issue, and it's so apparent that it needs to be addressed, either with new legislation or amendments to current legislation.

When you’re not at CELA, what do you like to do?
I love to do long distance running and am about to participate in my second half marathon. Next year I hope to run a full marathon. I also just completed my first Tough Mudder and am already training for the next one! I love to cook and find new ways to make gluten-free living delicious, love watching Game of Thrones and re-reading Harry Potter any chance I get. I've also recently taken up yoga!