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Environmental Law Alert Blog

Through our Environmental Law Alert blog, West Coast alerts you to environmental law problems and developments affecting British Columbians. It is the public voice of our Environmental Law Alert unit which is a legal “watchdog” for BC’s environment.

If you have an environmental story that we should hear about, please e-mail Andrew Gage. Also, please feel free to comment on any of the posts to this blog – but please keep in mind our policies on comments.

21 January, 2015

The term “social licence to operate” is used frequently by project proponents and in the media, but has recently attracted some controversy. However, In a context where Canada’s environmental laws are being aggressively weakened in favour of big resource companies, and where many Canadians are feeling alienated and excluded from formal environmental decision-making, the concept is rapidly gaining in importance. 

21 January, 2015

West Coast is excited to unveil our new and improved Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF). A recent review of the EDRF’s last 5 years, which included interviews with EDRF clients, allies, lawyers, and much internal reflection, convinced us that we can be more effective and efficient by strategically funding cases we think we can win legally, but which also help build a community that cares about environmental protection.

21 January, 2015

I was honoured to attend the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s (TWN) launch and celebration of its new solar tracker. With the installation of TWN’s solar tracker, TWN signaled that the green energy future is now. Far more than just opposing a pipeline that threatens their culture and spirituality while facilitating the expansion of the tar sands leading to runaway climate change, TWN is demonstrating leadership by investing in alternatives and looking to the future.

21 January, 2015

To what extent does our society afford us a right to freedom of expression? This is a question Mr. Alan Dutton must be quizzically trying to answer as he finds himself tied up in a lawsuit with Kinder Morgan. The oil company claims $5.6 million in damages against him, arguably for no further reason than attending a protest on public land, encouraging others to do the same, and maintaining a website as a means of communication about the issue.

15 January, 2015

We need your help to get justice for Lemon Creek and the residents of the Slocan Valley.  Please take a moment to ask the Canadian Department of Justice to pursue charges against the BC Government and Executive Flight Centre for their role in the August 2013 spill of more than 30,000 litres of jet fuel in the Slocan Valley.  

19 December, 2014

It’s been a busy year – with West Coast sounding the alarm on some major changes to BC’s laws and analyzing and commenting on other legal issues related to the future of our communities and planet.  Thanks to the magic of Google Analytics we’re able to give you our 10 most-read posts of 2014

18 December, 2014

On December 11, West Coast Environmental Law, along with the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research (NWI), co-hosted the first of a series of community dialogue sessions on LNG and cumulative impacts management.  We held the opening session in Prince Rupert last week and were moved by the depth of knowledge, thoughtfulness and concern that participants brought to the session.  The objective of the event was to bring together First Nations, concerned citizens, business owners, health workers, local governments and non-profit organizations to begin to talk about the overall picture of LNG development in the region. 

9 December, 2014

It’s a bit over twenty years since I was arrested, along with 300 other people who stood on the Kennedy Lake Road on August 9th, 1993, in Clayoquot Sound.  So the recent protests on Burnaby Mountain, with over 120 people arrested for protesting Kinder Morgan’s pipeline exploration activities in a regional park, brought back memories.  Although Kinder Morgan decided not to proceed with contempt proceedings  against the Burnaby protesters (after admitting that it provided incorrect GPS co-ordinates when it initially sought the court order they were said to have violated) , I think the lessons I learned about how the courts view and deal with protests will be relevant if we see future civil disobedience against the Enbridge or Kinder Morgan pipelines.

8 December, 2014

December 17 update: Bill C-43 received Royal Assent on December 16, 2014. Senate considered the 460-page Bill for only three short days and the Senate Finance Committee completed its clause-by-clause review of all 401 clauses in just one day.

On October 23, 2014, the federal government introduced Bill C-43, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures (also called the “Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2”). Buried in Division 16 of the 475 page omnibus bill are proposed changes to the Canada Marine Act that, if adopted, would pose a serious threat to legal protection from environmental threats and public oversight of activities that occur in ports.


19 November, 2014

Four legal challenges to last month’s approvals of BC Hydro’s proposed Site C dam demonstrate the risks associated with the erosion of legal mechanisms for meaningful public participation, transparency and accountability in environmental assessments under British Columbian and Canadian federal law. The federal and provincial decisions to approve Site C, an $8 hydroelectric project in northeast BC that would flood thousands of hectares of some of BC’s most important agricultural lands and displace homesteaders, First Nations, rare species and wildlife, occurred despite a finding by their own expert review panel that BC Hydro had not proven its impacts are justified.