Sometimes making the world a better place happens close to home—in your backyard, your neighbourhood or your community. Through its Green Communities program West Coast Environmental Law works to support healthy, resilient communities, guided by the understanding that the building blocks are healthy ecosystems, engaged citizens, and strategic planning that protects the interests of future generations.
Our work focuses on practical legal tools and law reform proposals that are informed by science and support citizen and stakeholder engagement in policy development and implementation.
West Coast has been providing leadership on local environmental issues for more than a decade, releasing the Smart Growth Guide to Local Government Law and Advocacy in 2001. This guide has evolved into a web-based resource for local governments and citizens, the Smart Bylaws Guide. It remains one of our most popular resources.
More examples of West Coast’s work for green communities include:
- Guidance on green infrastructure options ;
- Climate change adaptation strategies that increase community resilience and livability;
- Measures to conserve energy and water ; and
- Tools to protect productive agricultural lands in densely populated areas.
We continue to work collaboratively with planners, government representatives, community stakeholders, scientists and others to identify good practices and guidance, and to develop and advance law reform proposals that will meet real-life needs.
Our current projects:
- Community climate adaptation - Local governments are on the frontlines of climate change. In BC they have legal responsibilities to set targets to reduce their carbon footprints, but at the same time they need to prepare for climate change impacts ranging from sea level rise to increased risk of wildfires. How can we adapt our legal framework so that it supports the best choices for our communities and the environment? This project aims to provide strategic direction for local governments to respond effectively to climate change.
- Responsive, resilient communities - BC municipalities and regional districts have a range of law and policy tools available for advancing green community goals, but how can they work together more effectively to tackle problems at a regional scale? This project explores opportunities for innovation in regional governance mechanisms through the lens of climate change adaptation to address issues such as watershed health, and integrating science and environmental values into decision-making.
- Pesticides - West Coast Environmental Law has a long history of working on pesticides, from pressing the government to enact laws controlling pesticides, to working with members of the public concerned about pesticides to limit their use.