Media Release

Supreme Court of Canada Gives Green Light to Pollution Lawsuit Against Ontario Government

Sep 27 2001

The Supreme Court of Canada today released a decision that allows an Ontario farm family to proceed to trial with their pollution lawsuit against the Government of Ontario.The family's lawsuit (which was commenced in 1994) alleges that in the 1960s, the Ontario government caused or permitted the burial of tonnes of waste asphalt upon their farm property near Teviotdale, Ontario. The lawsuit further alleges that contaminants from the buried asphalt have leached into the groundwater and surface water, thereby causing cattle death and disease and rendering the propery worthless and unfit for farming purposes. Lawyers for the Ontario government argued that the lawsuit was commenced out of time, on the grounds that a special 6 month limitation period (under the Public Authorities Protection Act) started to tick when the farm family first discovered the buried asphalt in 1989.In a unanimous judgment, however, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected Ontario's position and held that the special 6 month limitation period did not apply in this case. The Court found that the burial of waste asphalt was not a "public" duty or activity, but was a private or operational activity that was not protected by the 6 month limitation period. Therefore, the Court found that the lawsuit was commenced in time, and ordered that the family's lawsuit be restored to the trial list. "We are pleased that our clients will finally get their day in court," said Richard Lindgren, a lawyer with the Canadian Environmental Law Association, which represents the farm family. The family is also represented by Donald Good of Ottawa.At this time, no date has been scheduled for the trial of this action.- 30 -For more information contact:Richard D. Lindgren 613-385-1686 or Donald Good 613-228-9676