Banner _Pubs.jpg

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.

8 July, 2016

Recently we witnessed a major legal victory for First Nations opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines and tankers proposal, as well as all the communities, groups and individuals supporting them. After nearly two years of litigation, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the federal Cabinet’s approval of Northern Gateway. In this blog post, Staff Counsel Gavin Smith, who acted as legal counsel for two of the First Nations in court, considers a new question: what happens now?

5 July, 2016

The Canadian government has announced that the House Standing Committee on Transportation will soon be starting its review of the Navigation Protection Act.

Unfortunately, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, in announcing the review, downplayed expectations that the government would restore lost environmental protections to a wide range of rivers and endorsed the previous government’s views that the purpose of the act is to protect navigation, and not navigable waters. That’s contrary to what the Liberal Party of Canada promised in the last election.

Canadians who were expecting better protection for the 99% of lakes and rivers that lost their legal protection in 2012 will want to let the government know their views.

21 June, 2016

On June 20, the federal government unveiled a wide-ranging review of the dramatic weakening of Canada's environmental laws made in 2012 by our previous administration and affirmed its intention to build stronger, modern environmental safeguards for nature and democracy.

While at first blush, "process to review environmental laws" may not sound like the most exciting news to make environmental headlines, the announcement marks a rare opportunity for Canadians to help shape the laws governing the things they value.

20 June, 2016

The Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air, and Water (RELAW) Project is a new initiative that aims to deepen First Nations’ capacity to engage in the process of revitalizing, applying and enforcing their own laws to contemporary environmental problems and proactive land and resource decision-making. In this post, Articled Student Lindsay Borrows recounts her powerful learning experiences at the recent 5-day RELAW retreat at the Cheakamus Centre in Squamish Nation Territory.

17 June, 2016

West Coast is excited to launch the Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air, and Water (RELAW) project in partnership with the Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU) at the University of Victoria. RELAW is a pilot project with the aim of supporting First Nations in their process of revitalizing, applying and enforcing Indigenous laws in relation to a contemporary aspect of environmental governance. In this post, Staff Counsel Georgia Lloyd-Smith reflects on her experience researching Secwepemc law with ILRU and the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, to provide insight into the work we will be doing in the RELAW project.

15 June, 2016

Would BC be ready for a major spill? Now is your chance to have your say.

The Government of BC is changing how we plan for and respond to spills in the province, and is holding a public comment period until June 30, 2016, on its proposed spill planning and response framework. West Coast has collaborated with our friends at Georgia Strait Alliance and Living Oceans Society to publish a backgrounder that can help you make your voice heard on the BC Government’s proposed spill response framework – and you can take action using our online spill response comment tool.

3 June, 2016

The Enbridge Northern Gateway project's conditional approval is on track to expire at the end of 2016. To keep its project alive, Northern Gateway has requested a three-year extension from the National Energy Board (NEB) and federal CabinetNow is the time to have your say on whether Enbridge should get another shot.

1 June, 2016

BC’s government accuses political opponents of being too keen to say “no” to development, but a recent report by BC’s Auditor General, Carol Bellringer, blasted the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Environment for the carte blanche they have provided to mining companies with little monitoring or compliance required after mines have been approved. While poor enforcement hurts the environment and the communities that depend on it, it also hurts industry. As we noted recently, it places responsible businesses at a competitive disadvantage, but at a broader level it also undermines public confidence in the industry as a whole – destroying the social licence of the mining industry and other regulated industries. If we want BC communities to say “yes” to resource development, we need strong environmental laws and we need confidence that our government will stand up and ensure those laws will be followed.

30 May, 2016

Today, in conjunction with the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research (NWI), West Coast Environmental Law is releasing our report Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment for Northern British Columbia: The Case and Opportunity.  The report offers an intimate glimpse into the hearts and minds of northern residents as they face a multitude of proposals for industrial development in their communities, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), forestry, mining, oil and gas, and hydroelectric projects.

26 May, 2016

One year to go until BC’s next election - what role will defending our natural environment play? A recent poll from Insights West contains good and bad news for environmentally-minded voters, but nonetheless reminds us that the environment can and should play a major role in the coming election. Share your ideas in keeping the environment front and centre in the lead up to the election.