March 2015 Bulletin

Overwhelming public support for Ontario’s plan to restrict bee-killing pesticides; Ontario issues draft regulations

Close to 50,000 comments from the public were submitted last month during the official consultation in response to Ontario’s pollinator health proposal to restrict bee-killing pesticides. Approximately 97 per cent favoured government action to restrict the use and sale of neonicotinoid pesticides. This week, Ontario issued draft regulations for public comment. Ontario will be the first jurisdiction in North America to impose regulatory restrictions on neonics. Scientific studies, compiled by the International Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, have linked these pesticides to high death rates in honeybees, as well as a range of harmful effects on birds, butterflies, bumblebees and earthworms, among other species. CELA will comment on the proposed regulation for the May 7th deadline.

Advocates applaud new program for low-income consumers

(Photo above: Minister Chiarelli and Antony Haines of Toronto Hydro with CELA Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan. Photo by Zee Banji.) 

(Photo above: Minister Chiarelli and Antony Haines of Toronto Hydro with CELA Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan. Photo by Zee Banji.) 

The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) welcomed Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s announcement that the provincial government is moving forward to establish an Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) for eligible low-income consumers by January 1, 2016.

A home energy rate affordability program has been a key component of LIEN’s proposal for a comprehensive energy poverty strategy since its inception over 10 years ago. Many of the essential components of that strategy have since been introduced by the Ontario Energy Board and the provincial government to alleviate the energy burden on low-income households. With the introduction of this OESP, the last key plank in a complete energy poverty strategy has been installed.

Equity and infrastructure planning issues raised in response to Climate Change Discussion Paper

This month, CELA and the Low-Income Energy Network responded to Ontario’s Climate Change Discussion Paper. We raised climate justice issues noting the need for equitable mitigation and adaptation policies. The province, for example, needs to broadly define communities and consider demographic groups that could be disproportionately impacted by policies such as carbon pricing which might be unfairly burdensome on low-income people. While supporting the province in taking necessary action on climate change, we also raised concerns and contradictions about existing development and infrastructure planning that need to be addressed to ensure effective transportation policy and more compact communities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area.

Preventing toxic emissions in communities

CELA represents the citizens group FACT-MB (Friends Addressing Concerns Together in McNab/Braeside) in its fight to prevent the major expansion of a quarry and within it 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 participated in a three-week hearing before the Ontario Municipal Board during March. CELA and FACT-MB are currently awaiting the Board's decision.

Raising concerns about the Bruce Power nuclear facility

CELA has prepared and filed a report for the upcoming hearing regarding the life extension of several reactors at the Bruce Power facility in Kincardine. CELA expressed ongoing concerns about the inadequacy of existing emergency response and management planning at the facility and for the surrounding area. CELA also raised new concerns about the ability of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's (CNSC) new emergency response and planning regulations to compel nuclear-generating stations to provide adequate emergency planning.

SPOTLIGHT: Planning and Sustainability

Strong planning regulations and objective environmental assessments help protect the natural areas that provide ecological services for all of us, such as filtering water, cleaning air and supporting farmlands that produce food. CELA has an extensive collection of research materials devoted to these issues that we’ve made available to researchers and the public. Topics in the collection range from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to local food protection and land use planning in Ontario.

Registration open: LIEN’s free upcoming annual conference

CELA is a founding member of the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) and works with other legal aid clinics, housing advocates, anti-poverty organizations and environmental groups on the environmental and social justice aspects of affordable electricity.
What: A gathering for social service agencies, low-income and affordable housing advocates, environmental organizations, anti-poverty groups, community legal clinics, and representatives from government agencies and utility companies, to share information on low-income energy issues.

Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 9am - 4pm
Location: Harbourfront Community Centre, Dance Studio, 627 Queens Quay West (corner Bathurst St), Toronto
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/2y9gs
Cost: Free
To register:http://www.lowincomeenergy.ca/news-events/2015/03/event-registration

Webinar: Ontario’s proposed Great Lakes Protection Act

The Great Lakes Protection Act Alliance works to ensure Ontario's proposed Great Lakes Protection Act (Bill 66) will be effective.

What: The Alliance is organizing a free webinar hosted by the Canadian Freshwater Alliance to explain what this proposed act intends to accomplish. The webinar will provide an overview of the policy tools in the proposed act, how the newest version (Bill 66) of the proposed act compares to the previous version, and much more.
Date: Thursday, April 2, 2015
Time: 3pm to 4pm
Location: Webinar
Cost: Free
To register: https://www.freshwateralliance.ca/en/events/overview-ontarios-proposed-great-lakes-protection-act

Work with CELA!

CELA is currently seeking enthusiastic and energetic applicants for the position of Counsel. This position is responsible for providing legal services to low-income and vulnerable clients and client groups with a range of environmental law issues, who meet eligibility criteria. CELA counsel also provides summary legal advice, legal services, public legal education and outreach and law reform services.

CELA speaking events

CELA’s Executive Director, Theresa McClenaghan, will be speaking at the following events:
• May 6: McMaster University on Environmental Law and Policy Development 
• May 7: The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Toronto District School Board's Great Lakes Event about environmental law and Great Lakes careers CELA’s Senior 

Researcher, Kathleen Cooper, will be speaking at these events:
• April 28: The Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Radon Specialists and Technologists about CELA’s recent radon report.
• May 12: At the Eastern Region Community Legal Clinic Spring Training Conference about RentSafe.