West Coast's 2021 Year in Review

The start of a New Year is a time for reflection as much as it is a time for celebration.

With 2021 behind us, we're reflecting on all the kindness our supporters have brought into the world of environmental law reform during a period of great uncertainties and difficulties. 2021 in particular was a year marked by climate-related emergencies in British Columbia and around the world.

As we prepare to tackle new environmental challenges in the year ahead, it’s important to remember and celebrate all that we’ve accomplished together. West Coast is excited to share our 2021 Year in Review and say a huge thank you to everyone who helped make these achievements possible!



Climate Change

West Coast played a leading role in efforts to secure the new Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. Although we wanted the law to be stronger, Bill C-12’s passing in June 2021 was an important victory.

We mobilized supporters and dozens of community organizations to comment on the BC government’s inadequate draft Climate Preparedness & Adaptation Strategy as communities struggled with heat domes and wildfires in summer 2021.


Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air & Water (RELAW)

Our RELAW (Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air & Water) team worked with the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance to publish their Legal Synthesis on Revitalizing Indigenous Laws in the Lower Fraser region, with a focus on water and fish.

West Coast lawyers also worked closely with the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs, who launched their groundbreaking Wilp Sustainability Assessment Process in early 2021.


Marine Protection

In February 2021, we worked with partners to release two reports on shipping and ocean protection: A Toolkit for Reducing Shipping Impacts in Marine Protected Areas and Regulating the West Coast Cruise Industry.

We continued our work to develop legal solutions for ocean protection grounded in Indigenous and Canadian law – including supporting the development of Indigenous Protected & Conserved Areas (IPCAs). During the summer, West Coast co-published an inspiring report called Indigenous Laws in the Context of Conservation.


Strong Environmental Laws

Throughout 2021, West Coast has been a leader in efforts to ensure that Canada’s new Impact Assessment Act is working for people and the environment. In February, Staff Lawyer Anna Johnston appeared virtually before the Alberta Court of Appeal on behalf of our client, Nature Canada, to uphold the Act and counter the Alberta government’s claims that the law is unconstitutional.


Trans Mountain

In May 2021, West Coast funded research and legal advice through the Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF) to support community groups to identify active hummingbird nests in Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) construction zones. These efforts confirmed violations of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, resulting in a stop-work order.

In September 2021, we released a report chronicling the numerous delays and challenges facing TMX. The report found evidence of delays in every segment of the pipeline route, pushing construction well into 2023, and projected that the cost was likely approaching $20 billion.


Green Communities

Throughout 2021, our Green Communities program has been continuing work on collaborative solutions to address BC’s need for stronger systems, policies and infrastructure to keep communities safe from flooding and other climate impacts. Projects like the Living Dike pilot project in Boundary Bay bring together experts and policy-makers across Indigenous, provincial, local governments to protect the area’s salt marsh as a nature-based solution to regulate coastal flooding.


These are just a few of the milestones West Coast achieved in our legal programs in 2021. None of this would have been possible without the help of our supporters, donors, board members, volunteers, clients, and partners. The generosity you’ve shown in 2021 will allow us to continue to be on the front lines of environmental emergencies and law reform in 2022.

This year—and for years to come—we know that, together, our work on legal solutions will continue to make a difference for nature and communities. We wish you a very Happy New Year ahead!


Top photo credit: Kalen Emsley via Unsplash