Marilyn Burgoon was a devoted environmental activist who consistently stepped up to protect the Slocan Valley watershed. West Coast was deeply saddened to learn of her passing in December 2019.
Marilyn founded the Perry Ridge Water Users Association, and did whatever she could to help ensure the health of fresh water in her community – from opposing logging plans on unstable slopes, to demanding that polluters be held accountable for environmental harm.
For over 15 years, West Coast Environmental Law was proud to support Marilyn’s work on these issues through our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF). When governments and corporations failed to address environmental injustices affecting her community, Marilyn came to West Coast for legal advice and support.
Marilyn’s most well-known legal effort involved a fuel spill in 2013. That summer, a tanker truck crashed and spilled over 30,000 litres of jet fuel into Lemon Creek (a tributary of the Slocan River). The incident caused significant damage to fish habitat and raised concerns about drinking water safety in nearby communities.
Despite clear evidence of environmental harm, both the federal and provincial governments failed to lay charges over the spill. So with support from the EDRF and her lawyer, Lilina Lysenko, Marilyn launched a private prosecution against the fuel company (Executive Flight Centre) and the BC government.
Marilyn persevered as the case went on for years, through various court processes. Eventually, charges were laid against the truck driver and Executive Flight Centre for violations under the Environmental Management Act. The company was still fighting the charges until January 2020, when it formally abandoned its appeal.
This long-awaited outcome is a victory for Lemon Creek and for all British Columbians who care about enforcing our environmental laws. We are so grateful to Marilyn for her commitment to this cause and many others, and for the personal sacrifices she made in defence of the environment.
Marilyn’s dedication is an inspiration to all of us here at West Coast, and her legacy will be remembered by many in the Slocan Valley and across BC.