Kayaking in Ontario. (Photo: Theresa McClenaghan/CELA)
News & activities
Day of Action to reverse cuts to CELA and other LAO clinics
CELA, along with other Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) clinics, participated in a province-wide Day of Action on July 30. Communities all over Ontario demonstrated their support for the crucial work of legal aid clinics, including many of CELA’s clients and communities of interest. We extend a special thanks to all those who have sent messages of support and called on the Ontario government to reverse the legal aid cuts. As you know, the Ontario government has significantly reduced LAO funding in the last budget resulting in a reduction of CELA’s budget by approximately 30 per cent phased in over two years. The Day of Action received coverage by CBC News, Timmins Today, Heart FM, and other media outlets in addition to a Lawyer’s Daily guest column by CELA counsel Jacqueline Wilson. CELA executive director Theresa McClenaghan was also interviewed on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today”.
Briefing note: Canada’s new Impact Assessment Act
CELA counsel Richard Lindgren prepared a briefing note on Bill C-69, which was proclaimed in force on August 28, 2019. This lengthy Bill affects a number of federal environmental statutes. For example, Bill C-69 replaces the existing Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) with the new Impact Assessment Act (IAA). The briefing note provides a concise overview of the information-gathering and decision-making process set out in the IAA in relation to major projects that require federal approval under the Act.
Esker Lakes provincial park. (Photo: Theresa McClenaghan/CELA)
Appealing the Niagara Escarpment development permit
CELA counsel Ramani Nadarajah and Jessica Karban represented the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment (CONE) on an appeal of a development permit. The appeal was heard in June by a Niagara Escarpment Hearing Officer. CONE had appealed the Niagara Escarpment Commission’s decision to issue a development permit regarding the construction of a second dwelling. CONE called a planning expert to provide testimony about why the development permit was contrary to the provisions of the Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act. A decision has not yet been released.
CELA client intervenes in quarry hearing
The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal has allowed CELA’s client, Citizens Against Melrose Quarry, to participate in an upcoming hearing under the Aggregates Resources Act in relation to a new quarry in southeastern Ontario that proposes to excavate below the water table. Among other things, the citizens’ group and other local residents are concerned about potential adverse effects of quarrying activities on the quantity and quality of the shallow aquifer that serves as the sole source of drinking water in the area. The Tribunal will hold a second pre-hearing conference in November.
Blanding’s Turtle is native to central and eastern parts of Canada and the U.S. (Photo: Kerrie Blaise/CELA)
Improving recovery strategies for Ontario’s endangered species
In a recent call for information on draft Recovery Strategies for nine of Ontario’s endangered species, CELA reiterated its concerns about potential changes to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. If enacted, these changes could delay the implementation of recovery strategies and result in further harm to already at-risk populations. We also provided comments on two draft recovery strategies, noting that for the Blanding’s Turtle, greater detail should be provided in the Strategy which identifies the records, studies, and data relied upon for the species. And for Ontario’s endangered bats, we recommended that “bat-friendly” design should be incorporated into the infrastructure project reviews.
Protecting the Freele County Forest in Ontario’s Simcoe County
CELA represented the Friends of Simcoe Forests Inc. at a case management conference of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal earlier this month. The case involves the approval by the County of Simcoe and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing of a waste processing complex in the middle of the Freele County Forest, which is both a significant woodland and wildlife habitat.
Webinar: Carbon pricing
CELA counsel Theresa McClenaghan, Rick Lindgren, and Jacqueline Wilson presented a webinar called “Overview of the Carbon Pricing References: What is the “Matter” and Why Does It Matter?“. The webinar focused on the legal context for two provincial references on the constitutionality of the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, which are now headed to the Supreme Court of Canada, the findings in the two Courts that the Act is constitutional under the federal peace, order, and good government power, and why the cases are so important for low-income and vulnerable communities.
Town of Hornepayne’s Nuclear Waste Community Liaison Committee
CELA executive director Theresa McClenaghan and counsel Kerrie Blaise were invited to make presentations to the Town of Hornepayne’s Nuclear Waste Community Liaison Committee about potentially hosting Canada’s high-level nuclear fuel waste. There are many outstanding questions about what it might mean for the community to host a waste facility—which has not yet been chosen, licensed, or approved. In our presentations, we discussed a range of issues including the importance of transparency and public participation. We also stressed the importance of the community’s need to obtain answers regarding health and environmental safety.
Webinar: COA Great Lakes Water Quality & Ecosystem Health
CELA and Environmental Defence Canada recently hosted a one-hour webinar devoted to the Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. The presentation reviewed the key agreement that outlines how the governments of Canada and Ontario will cooperate and coordinate on actions to protect and restore waters and wetlands in the Great Lakes – St Lawrence Basin. Engagement coordinator April Weppler also contributed a blog on the topic.
CELA and Environmental Defence have developed comments on the draft COA, which will be circulated this week. We encourage groups or individuals who are interested in signing on to our comments to contact April Weppler. You are also welcome to use portions of our comments to develop your own submission to the provincial and federal governments by the September 4 deadline.
Ontario Justice Education Network presentation
CELA counsel Jacqueline Wilson and CELA articling student Amanda Montgomery presented to the Ontario Justice Education Network about intergenerational equity, climate justice, and participation in environmental decision-making.
Updated referral list of Ontario environmental lawyers
As a public service, CELA maintains a referral list of Ontario lawyers for individuals who do not qualify for our legal aid services. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to maintain a similar list for other provinces. For those seeking legal advice outside of Ontario, we suggest an online search for provincial law societies. If you’d like to be added to our referral list of lawyers, please contact Tracy Tucker.
Departing CELA staff
CELA extends our heartfelt thanks to departing staff. Congratulations to Rashin Alizadeh, who was called to the Bar after articling for CELA over the last year. We also wish Ajman Ladher all the best in her career as she takes up a new challenge at a law firm. We are also so grateful to Dominic Ali for shepherding our communications—such as this excellent Bulletin—over the past seven years.
The Faces of CELA: April Weppler
With support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, CELA recently hired April Weppler as the engagement coordinator with our Healthy Great Lakes Program.
With funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, CELA hired April Weppler as the part-time engagement coordinator with our Healthy Great Lakes program. April has more than 15 years of communications and engagement experience in conservation. Over the next few months, she’ll be developing and implementing an engagement strategy for the program which will include liaising with the CELA team, the Healthy Great Lakes Advisory Committee, and all the passionate groups and individuals in CELA’s networks.
What inspired you to get involved in environmental law?
I’ve been working in the conservation field for over 15 years, with a focus on supporting nonprofits and charities who are working on protecting our land and water in Ontario. I see this role with CELA as an opportunity to tell more people about the great work CELA is doing improve water policy, and help people learn about how they can use legal tools and hold polluters and the government accountable to protect our waters in the Great Lakes region.
What’s the most rewarding part of being part of CELA?
CELA is such an extraordinary resource for the environmental community—whether you’re an NGO looking to submit a comment on legislative reform, or an individual looking to learn more about a threat to our water, CELA has extensive knowledge and expertise to share.
What do you think is Canada’s biggest environmental challenge today?
One of the greatest challenges is the number of threats facing our environment, and the enormous volume of information coming us at every day about those threats. It can be hard to wade through all the information and understand how we can take action and make a difference. CELA plays an important role in helping people prioritize and understand the threats to our waters in the Great Lakes region, and direct them to the tools at their disposal to have an impact.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
I live in Guelph with my partner and two daughters. We love to hike, canoe, camp, and spend as much time outdoors as we can!