Richmond Landfill - Upholding Ontario's Environmental Assessment Process
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A long standing legal battle to ensure proper environmental assessment (EA) processes at one of Ontario’s oldest and largest landfills.
Landfill Expansion EA Terms of Reference:Ontario Divisional and Appeal Courts, 2012-2015
In a landmark Divisional Court Decision in 2003 regarding the proposed expansion of the Richmond Landfill, the Court held that Ontario’s Environment Minister had no jurisdiction under the Environmental Assessment Act to approve an EA process that excludes key EA planning issues, such as “need” and “alternatives.” However, on appeal, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the Divisional Court decision. Leave to the Supreme Court of Canada was refused.
Following this litigation, the proponent completed and submitted its "scoped" EA for the proposed landfill expansion. However, in November 2006, Ontario's Minister of the Environment refused to approve the proposed expansion under the EA Act due to outstanding environmental concerns raised by agency and public commenters, including CELA’s client (a local residents’ group).
Residents’ Appeal of Site Licence Conditions: Environmental Review Tribunal, 2012
In 2011, the Richmond Landfill was finally closed. In 2012, on behalf of its client, CELA applied to the Environmental Review Tribunal for leave to appeal various conditions imposed in relation to environmental monitoring, contingency plans, and reporting. CELA’s client argued that these conditions were inadequate, and the Tribunal granted leave to appeal on March 30, 2012.
After the appeal was filed, the parties reached a settlement agreement on odour monitoring, public notification and annual reporting, which was accepted by the Tribunal in 2013. The landfill proponent then conducted further groundwater investigations and fieldwork, and the Tribunal held public hearings in May and June 2015. In December 2015, the Tribunal released a lengthy decision which: (i) allowed the appeal filed by CELA’s client; (ii) found that landfill leachate had moved off-site and contaminated nearby private wells; and (iii) ordered various improvements regarding environmental monitoring and contingency measures. It is anticipated that these further steps will be implemented in 2016.
In the meantime, the proponent has proposed to build a new landfill beside the closed Richmond Landfill, and the EA process for the new proposal is now underway.
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