February 2023 Bulletin

Making the Links for Over 20 Years

Low-income individuals and disadvantaged communities are impacted most heavily by development. They bear the disproportionate burden of adverse health and environmental impacts from contaminants discharged into the air, land, and water.

Making the Links” toolkits are created to pair critically urgent environmental issues with legal mechanisms for change and public advocacy. They highlight issues that impact particular communities and give guidance on how to participate in various environmental decision-making processes. 

CELA first created “Making the Links” resource kits in 2012 as part of the “Environmental Health, Equity, and Law: Making the Links” project. Developed for six communities across Ontario, the resource kits were a compilation of environmental health and legal information relevant to environmental health issues identified as areas of concern in each community.

These were followed in 2021 by a toolkit focused on Northern Ontario developed with and for Indigenous and settler communities and individuals.

These toolkits are intended to be a foundational resource so that both individuals and practitioners can have ready access to solutions for environmental health issues.

This winter, CELA is releasing toolkits for Ontario’s Southeastern and Southwestern regions, developed by second-year Osgoode Hall Law School students Kirti Vyas and Sawyer Fobert.

CELA will be hosting webinars about these new toolkits. The Southwestern toolkit will be presented on March 24th in partnership with the Community Legal Clinic – Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk. The Southeastern toolkit webinar will take place on March 31st.

Photo Credit – Pelly Shaw

Case Updates

Ontario Land Tribunal Hearing on Controversial Development in Kingston

CELA has been retained by No Clearcuts Kingston, a non-profit organization that has been engaged in a lengthy community-based fight against the residential/commercial development of a former tannery site beside the Cataraqui River.

In September 2022, Kingston’s council refused to approve the development under the Planning Act, and the developer appealed the refusal to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). Our client agrees with the City that the current development proposal does not adequately protect ecological systems, natural heritage, water, and public safety, particularly given the risk of natural hazards and climate change impacts.

In February 2023, the OLT granted party status to CELA’s client so that it can fully participate in the upcoming appeal hearing.

Countdown to the Supreme Court Appeal on the Impact Assessment Act

As interveners, CELA and two clients are eagerly awaiting the Supreme Court of Canada’s hearing on March 21 and 22, 2023 that will determine whether the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA) is constitutionally valid. 

This precedent-setting test case will determine the constitutional validity of the IAA, which applies to major projects in Ontario (e.g., mines, pipelines, and nuclear waste facilities) and provides important opportunities for CELA’s client communities to participate in governmental information-gathering and decision-making about such projects. CELA’s position is that the IAA can be upheld under various heads of federal power under the Constitution Act, 1867.

CELA’s written argument and the arguments filed by all other parties and interveners have been recently posted on the Court’s website for public review. The two-day hearing will be livestreamed on the Court’s webcast service. For additional context, read CELA Counsel Rick Lindgren’s blog from last May, outlining what led to the ruling by the Alberta Court of Appeal that the IAA is unconstitutional.

Photo Credit – Kathy Cooper

Law Reform Updates

Update – Reforming the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

As Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 continues to be considered by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, more concerns are being raised about the importance of strengthening Canada’s cornerstone environmental legislation.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) is intended to address pollution prevention, control of toxic substances and products of biotechnology, air and water pollution, hazardous wastes, environmental emergencies, and more.  CEPA is critical to protecting the most vulnerable Canadians – children, people living on a low income, workers, and Indigenous communities – who are disproportionately exposed to environmental contaminants.

In a recent blog post, CELA Counsel Joseph Castrilli argued that it will be hard for Canada to declare that it has protected ‘30 by 30’ if the humans and wildlife within those zones continue to be subjected to some of the most pernicious substances on the planet.

Joseph Castrilli was also widely quoted in the media earlier this month, in articles saying the federal government is playing a dangerous game by refusing to force any company that makes or uses toxic chemicals to have a plan in place to prevent them from getting into the environment. 

CELA is producing a new series on Bill S-5 and the need for reform of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act; check out our law reform page for new postings. 

Inside CELA

Jane Fallis Cooper is currently on placement with CELA through the Osgoode Hall Law School Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments (IPILRG).

Her placement has centered around conducting legal research for Grand Council Treaty #3 (the traditional government of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3), in relation to both the common law and Anishinaabe law. As part of her placement, she has travelled to Kenora, Dryden, Fort Frances, and Thunder Bay to meet with Elders, Youth, and other Nation members.  

Jane was also a summer student at CELA (Northern Services) in the summer of 2021, on a Lenczner Slaght advocacy fellowship. She will receive her JD degree from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law this spring.  

From the Foundation

This month’s Feature from the Archives is a submission from 1987 calling for a major overhaul of Canada’s environmental legislation. Timely as CELA calls for amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, this submission on the proposed Federal Environmental Protection Act was penned by then CELA Counsel Toby Vigod and Canadian Environmental Law Research Foundation’s Marcia Valiante.

Webinars & Resources

Impact of Bill 23 on Planning Act Third-Party Appeal Rights

Third-party appeals under the Planning Act are appeals filed with the Ontario Land Tribunal by an interested member of the public related to local land use. Concerned citizens who want to be involved in their community’s development are given the opportunity to challenge a decision in a fair and transparent way through a review by an independent tribunal.

These rights are critical to communities being able to engage in planning and decision-making that affects their communities – and those rights to appeal were impacted by recent amendments to the Planning Act as a result of the passage of Bill 23, the More Homes Build Faster Act, 2022.  CELA recently created a fact sheet that discussed the changes. You can download it here. For more information about Bill 23, consult this page.

French Resources / Ressources Françaises

A number of CELA’s resources have recently been translated into French. You can find reports on climate change impacts on vulnerable communities here, resources about lead in drinking water here, and a recording of a recent webinar on community environmental health here.

Un certain nombre de ressources du CELA ont récemment été traduites en français. Vous pouvez trouver des rapports sur les impacts du changement climatique sur les communautés vulnérables ici, des ressources sur le plomb dans l’eau potable ici, et l’enregistrement d’un récent webinaire sur la santé environnementale communautaire ici.

Environmental Justice: Recent Legislative Developments in Canada

On February 24, 2023, CELA counsel Richard Lindgren made a presentation on environmental justice at the Environmental Summit held in Ottawa by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Environmental justice recognizes that pollution does not affect everyone equally; it is well-documented that certain communities are disproportionally impacted by environmental impacts from industrial plants, air/water discharges, or waste facilities placed in their communities.  In his presentation, Rick discussed how environmental justice is being addressed in recent legislative developments in Canada, as well as the Law Commission of Ontario’s review of the Environmental Bill of Rights.

Photo Credit – Bo Wandschneider

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 CELA Foundation.

The CELA 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.