Over the course of our 35 year history, the focus of our work has periodically shifted to address the emerging environmental challenges that face British Columbia. But, while we may be working on new issues, our historical work often remains relevant and valuable. In this Other Issues section we have highlighted important work from previous programs that is still valuable to British Columbians today.
This work includes:
- Environmental Deregulation - In 2001 the BC provincial government set a target of eliminating one third of all regulations. Between 2001 and 2005 the government repealed, amended or replaced a wide range of environmental statutes, as well as cutting funding to environment-related ministries. This section look at how these changes to the regulations has impacted British Columbians.
- Oil, Gas, and Mining - From the seismic lines that criss-cross wilderness and farmland in the Peace district to the toxic run-off from the abandoned Britannia mine site just outside of Vancouver, the oil and gas and mining industries are heavy contributors to some of BC's most difficult environmental problems. West Coast has made significant contributions to law reform in these areas.
- Private Land Protection - West Coast, working with groups like the Land Conservancy of BC, has developed important legal tools to protect ecological values on private lands. Legislative changes promoted by West Coast now enable landowners and conservation groups to protect these values.
- Sustainable Agriculture - Sustainable Agriculture's Growing Green's program focus was on federal, provincial and local law and policy as it applies to growing food in and around BC's urban areas. Growing Green is based on the premise that participants in the food system already provide environmental services, but the system must produce more in order to be truly sustainable.
- Toxics - From its earliest days, West Coast has pressed for strong laws to protect public health and the environment from toxic chemicals. We were instrumental in getting legal protections related to pesticides and toxic waste. We have argued that the public has a constitutionally protected right to an environment safe from toxins.
- Water - Over the past 25 years West Coast has led the way with campaigns to clean up contamination and pollution threatening our water. Our pulp pollution campaign led to regulations on AOX credited with eliminating dioxins and furans from pulp effluent. In the nineties we worked with groups across BC to protect urban streams from development with new streamside regulations.
- Wild Salmon, Endangered Species - British Columbia is home not just to humans, but to a wide range of animals and plants. British Columbians expect the law to protect our salmon, and to ensure that plant and animal species do not go extinct. While protection for fish and species at risk is not currently a focus for West Coast environmental law, we are frequently called upon to help out.