February 2015 Bulletin

Re-introduction of Great Lakes Protection Act wins praise

An alliance of environmental groups applauded the Ontario government’s proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, to be re-introduced this month at Queen’s Park. The proposed law aims to address some of the biggest problems facing the Great Lakes including water pollution, wetland loss and algal blooms. If passed, the new law would allow government to set science-based targets to address the most severe threats to the Great Lakes and empower local groups to develop solutions to protect their community’s water. It would also establish a Great Lakes Guardians’ Council, a collaborative forum for provincial ministers to discuss priorities, financial measures and share information.

Residents’ group fights quarry dewatering

CELA represents Citizens Against Melrose Quarry (CAMQ), a residents’ group that is gearing up for an Environmental Review Tribunal hearing on a water-taking permit issued to a limestone quarry in southeastern Ontario. CAMQ’s Notice of Appeal raises concerns about the potential impacts of large-scale dewatering upon private wells, the local aquifer and a nearby watercourse. The Tribunal held a preliminary hearing in late January, and the main hearing will be held in mid-May in Belleville.

Saying “no” to bad environment regulation

CELA joined other organizations in making submissions on a proposed regulation that would allow the burning of waste materials (described as “alternative fuels” in the proposal) by cement, steel and lime industries. While the proposed regulation is intended to reduce greenhouse gases from large industries, it may also have significant impacts on provincial efforts to reduce toxic chemicals and improve waste reduction programs. Concerns have focused on the lack of substantive data on air emissions of toxic pollutants provided from pilot projects and lack of certainty regarding the waste materials to be used as fuel. Results of test burns of alternative fuels at all of the industrial facilities in Ontario where they’ve taken place have not been made public, subjected to peer-scientific scrutiny nor publicly released during the notice and comment period. CELA continues to monitor this situation.

Encouraging Ontario to act on cumulative impacts of air pollution

CELA joined other health and environmental organizations to urge Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray to take action to protect the health of Ontarians and Ontario’s airsheds from the cumulative effects of air pollution. The Ministry doesn't currently consider cumulative effects in its regulation of industrial air emissions although communities across Ontario are impacted by toxic air pollutants. Five years have passed since the Ministry promised to review an Application for Review under section 61 of the Environmental Bill of Rights filed by the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, a reserve community located in the heart of Sarnia’s heavily industrialized Chemical Valley. As a member of the Air Quality Advisory Committee reviewing air standards under O. Regulation 419, CELA has raised its concerns regarding the lack of progress made to address cumulative impacts from air pollution.

Proposed asphalt plant causes a stink

CELA represents the citizens group FACT-MB (Friends Addressing Concerns Together in McNab/Braeside) in its fight to prevent the establishment of a permanent hot mix asphalt plant near local homes that would result in toxic emissions and odour. FACT-MB is also fighting the proposed expansion of a working quarry to less than 300 meters from local homes. We recently participated in a pre-hearing conference before the Ontario Municipal Board and the proposed four-week main hearing is scheduled to begin March 2 in Arnprior.

SPOTLIGHT: Green Energy

Renewable energy is the way of the future. CELA has an extensive collection of research materials available on our website related to this topic. Our collection includes information on phasing out nuclear power plants, enacting regulations to encourage more renewable power, promoting energy conservation and much more.

UPCOMING: Speaking Events

CELA Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan will be speaking at the following events:
Review of 2014 environmental court decisions. Commons Institute 240 Minutes on Environmental Law.
WHEN: February 27 (Friday)

Uncertainty and Precaution: Assessing the Proposed Deep Geological Repository (DGR) for Nuclear Waste in Ontario. The JD/Master in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Energy Initiative Seminar Series, York University Faculty of Environmental Studies and Osgoode Law School.
WHEN: March 3 (Tuesday) from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Faces of CELA: Claire Yick

This month we caught up with contract staff member Claire Yick to learn more about why she joined CELA and her plans for the future.

So what do you do at CELA?
I joined the team back in 2013 as an articling student, where I handled legal intake, worked on law reform files, and provided support to counsel. Last year, I also become a member of the CELA Board of Directors and Library Board. I am currently at CELA on contract as Special Project Counsel, where I'm assisting with some public legal education files and providing litigation support. Once my contract ends later this month, I will be actively looking for new career opportunities related to environmental law.

What’s the path that brought you to CELA?
I started off studying Biology (Queen's University) and Environmental Science (Carleton University) for my undergraduate degrees. I then completed the joint Master in Environmental Studies/Juris Doctor (MES/JD) program at York University and Osgoode Hall Law School. I knew that I wanted to article with an organization where I would be able to apply my environmental expertise and also feel like I was making a difference. CELA has been an amazing place to work, due both to the people I work with and the work itself.

What inspired you to get involved in environmental law? I have always had an affinity for nature and science while growing up. I had never really considered the legal profession. It wasn't until a guest speaker in an undergraduate Conservation Biology class said that his one recommendation for students looking to bring about changes in environmental legislation and policy would be for them to go to law school. I already had a strong environmental background, so the seed to enroll in law school (and concurrently complete my Master's) was planted. This led me very naturally to specialize in environmental law.

What is the most important environmental regulation you'd like to see implemented in Canada?
Canadians need improved access to environmental justice. In fact, this is one of CELA's key mandates: to provide equitable access to justice for those who could otherwise not afford it. Canadians should be able to challenge environmental decisions made by the government in an equitable and cost effective that provides for effective remedies. Increased focus on the creation of Anti-SLAPP legislation and strengthening Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights would be a great start. It would also be helpful if there were more firms/lawyers dedicated to fighting environmental battles.

What other aspects of the legal field are you interested in?
Environmental law is complex and fascinating as connects with so many other areas of law. In particular, I am interested in intersections with Aboriginal law, renewable energy and natural resources law. I am also interested in a number of animal law issues (species at risk, migratory birds, Darwin the IKEA monkey etc.).

When you’re not at CELA, what do you like to do?
I host monthly informal meet-ups for law students and others interested in environmental law. So far, it's been a great way to meet colleagues in this field (and new members are always welcome). I am also becoming certified to teach aerial yoga. If you have never tried it before, it is a great way to get some exercise and it feels incredibly liberating to hang from the silk hammock! Lastly, I am a part of the Out on Bay Street executive and I am planning a mooting event for their annual conference later this year. are information.