Summer Student Profiles
CELA encourages the growth and development of young minds who are eager to delve into the environmental and social justice community. This summer, CELA welcomed five passionate and hardworking summer students and helped foster their professional and personal development. CELA students worked on various projects, bringing fresh perspectives and tremendous value to the team.
Coco Wang is a student at Lincoln Alexander School of Law in the Integrated Practicum Program. This summer, she worked at CELA as part of her First-Year Summer Experience Program. Coco wrote a research report on Ontario’s air regulation, particularly site-specific standards. She drafted several public submissions and letters addressed to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Protection. Coco also contributed to CELA’s air quality campaign page, where you can find some of the submissions she worked on.
Kristen Theriault is entering her second year at Osgoode Hall Law School. This summer, she focused on legal education projects that explored environmental justice. She developed a series of fact sheets that looked at environmental justice as it pertains to our built environment, climate change impacts, and food security.
Matthew Suchan is a third-year student at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University, who is expected to complete a specialization in Aboriginal and Indigenous law. This summer with CELA, Matt focused on conducting extensive research on the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s regulatory regime, completing law reform work related to Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act, and providing legal support to public applicants with environmental concerns. Matt also comprehensively examined Indigenous-led environmental stewardship programs in Canada. Matt is looking forward to continuing his work with CELA in September and throughout his practice placement.
Mathie Smith is entering her second year of law school at Western University. This summer, she focused on law reform projects that explored the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities. Mathie used an equity lens to examine how national, provincial, and municipal governments are preparing for climate-related emergencies, including extreme heat events. Her work includes a brief explaining how air conditioners can be obtained as discretionary benefits for recipients of Ontario Works and/or the Ontario Disability Support Program and a published response to the Government of Canada’s final release of the National Adaptation Strategy.
Suvatha Dharumachanthiran, a high school student in the specialized STEAM program at Scarborough Academy for Technological, Environmental and Computer Studies @ W.A. Porter, dedicated her summer to a cooperative education program with CELA. Her involvement was marked by creating a unique CELA scrapbook that compiles historical newspaper clippings, showcasing the organization’s work during its initial two decades. Suvatha’s meticulous efforts in preserving CELA’s past achievements through this scrapbook demonstrate her commitment to the organization’s legacy. Stay tuned for further details on this captivating project in the near future.
Resident's Group Appealed to Ontario Land Tribunal on Controversial Asphalt Plant in Napanee
Keep Napanee Great (KNG), a non-profit residents’ advocacy group, was recently represented by CELA at an Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) hearing about a proposed hot mix asphalt plant in Napanee.
In this case, the proponent R.W. Tomlinson Ltd. requested the Town of Greater Napanee to rezone some of its property to permit the siting of a permanent asphalt plant (and a permanent concrete batching plant). The Town council voted unanimously to deny the requested rezoning, citing that it “is not in the best interests of the community, does not adequately protect drinking water sources and groundwater, and may result in unacceptable adverse impacts on nearby residents due to dust, odour, traffic, and noise emissions, and is generally not compatible with the existing uses in the area.” The company then appealed the Town’s refusal to the OLT under the Planning Act.
As a hearing party, KNG presented evidence and argument in support of the Town’s refusal to grant the requested rezoning. KNG coordinated its efforts with the Town and called three expert witnesses to address air quality, noise, and planning issues. Three members of the local community were also called as lay witnesses by KNG. CELA counsel Rick Lindgren and Jacqueline Wilson appeared on behalf of KNG at the two-week hearing in August 2023.
It is anticipated that after the parties file their written submissions in the fall, the OLT will decide whether to grant or dismiss the proponent’s appeal.
Last Day of Chalk River Nuclear Landfill Hearing
Last summer, CELA reported daily on public hearings regarding the proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility for Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ Chalk River site. Following the five days of hearings in 2022, the Canadian Nuclear Safe Commission (CNSC) decided to adjourn its hearing to allow for further information exchange between the proponent and First Nation communities.
The CNSC then set a deadline for final written submissions by all of the other intervenors and set a date for additional oral submissions by some of the First Nations who intervened in 2022. CELA attended the final day of hearings, which took place on August 10, 2023. A full accounting of the day can be found here.
Law Reform Updates
Update on Site-Specific Air Standard Approval for Glencore Canada Corporation
In June 2023, CELA made a submission to the Ontario government regarding Glencore Canada Corporation’s (Glencore) application for a site-specific air pollution standard (SSS) for its Kidd Concentrator facility. Glencore’s application, if approved, would allow them to release sulphur dioxide at a rate almost 7 times the health-based provincial air standards. This risks poor air quality with potentially serious consequences to the environment and human health.
CELA is disappointed that, earlier this month, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) approved Glencore’s SSS proposal for sulphur dioxide for a 5-year period. More details on CELA’s concerns can be found here.
Efficiency Canada Releases Heat Pump Research to Support Clean Heat Policy in Canada
Efficiency Canada’s policy and research team has recently published their Canadian Heat Pump Myth-Buster. The work provides an introduction to the different types of heat pumps available and how they work, answers a few frequently asked questions, and dispels some common myths associated with heat pumps and their use in Canada. Efficiency Canada has shared this work in efforts to educate policy makers, the energy efficiency sector, and the public about heat pumps and the vital role they will play in electrifying Canada’s building stock to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Read the blog here.
CELA works closely with Efficiency Canada through our work with the Low-Income Energy Network.
From the Foundation
TBCG Environmental Advocates Blog Contest
The Canadian Environmental Law Foundation is pleased to announce the following winners in the TBCG Environmental Advocates Blog Contest:
- Martin Edwini-Bonsu – Empowering Communities: Building a Framework for Equitable Environmental Decision-Making
- Bridget Allen-O’Neil – Enforcing Access to Environmental Decision-Making through Environmental Rights
- Davis Legree – From Consultation to Consent: The Case for Elevating the Standard
The contest was open to current students or recent graduates of a post-secondary program in Canada. Participants were asked to answer the question “What systemic changes are needed to ensure equitable community engagement in environmental decision-making?”.
Feature from the Foundation
The importance of public participation is not a new concept. This month’s feature from the Canadian Environmental Law Foundation features a 1971 report titled “The Need for Public Participation in Environmental Planning”. The report expresses concern about “the total absence of adequate provisions in the Environmental Protection Act, 1971, and other Ontario legislation, providing interested and directly affected members of the public a meaningful role in the process of setting regulatory effluent standards and in the granting of specific administrative orders or approvals specifying acceptable levels of pollution”.
Webinars and Resources
Fact Sheets - Environmental Justice
CELA is pleased to present a series of fact sheets discussing Environmental Justice, as it pertains to the built environment, food security, and climate change.
Environmental justice requires the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
The fact sheets can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.
New "Making the Links" Toolkit for Southeastern Ontario
Across Canada, low-income individuals and disadvantaged communities bear the disproportionate burden of adverse health and environmental impacts from contaminants that are discharged into air, land, and water. The nexus between pollution, poverty, race, and ethnicity has prompted civil society, academics, lawyers, and non-governmental organizations to advocate for legal reforms that facilitate access to environmental justice.
CELA is pleased to present a new toolkit for Southeastern Ontario on environmental rights and public action. For more information on CELA’s toolkits, and to find a toolkit for your region, click here.
Public Legal Education - August Look-Back
Articling student Lindsay Dixon presented as part of a webinar on protecting workers from heat stress hosted by the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers Inc (OHCOW).
CELA staff also presented on the topic of air quality during a regional roundtable hosted by the Anishinabek Nation in August and will be presenting at two more roundtables this fall.
Looking for a Publication?
In addition to the search function on our website, all our publications are listed in reverse chronological order on our website here, or you can view a full list here. Looking for an older publication? CELA’s archives contain all of CELA’s documents up until 2017.
You might also be interested in perusing the library housed by the Canadian Environmental Law Foundation.
The Foundation website is also home to the Environmental History Program, which includes interesting projects such as Environmental Beginnings and all the publications from the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario