January 2016 Bulletin

Environmental tribunal renders decision on controversial landfill

In December 2015, Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal released a detailed decision regarding the closed Richmond Landfill Site near Napanee. In the Tribunal proceedings, CELA represented the Concerned Citizens’ Committee of Tyendinaga and Environs (CCCTE), which had launched an appeal against inadequate conditions in the landfill’s Environmental Compliance Approval. In its 159-page decision, the Tribunal found that landfill leachate had contaminated private wells on neighbouring properties, and that the leachate plume now extends hundreds of metres off-site from the landfill footprint. Therefore, the Tribunal allowed the CCCTE appeal and ordered various improvements regarding environmental monitoring and contingency measures at the site.

Request for public consultation on Waukesha’s application

CELA and six other public interest groups and individuals wrote to the Ontario government to request a public hearing on the City of Waukesha’s application to divert water from Lake Michigan under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. This is the first application of its kind under the Compact. It is essential that the Compact is given a robust interpretation to ensure that it serves its intended purpose to protect, conserve and manage the Great Lakes ecosystem. In our view, Ontario’s position on this water diversion application should incorporate the views of the Ontario public.

Reviewing proposed short-term water takings regulations

CELA provided comments to the Ministry of Environment and Energy and Climate Change (MOECC) on its proposal regarding Short-Term Water Takings which was placed on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry. (EBR Registry Number 012-5274).

CELA identified a number of problems with the Ministry’s proposed regulations regarding short-term water taking. In particular, CELA indicated that it was very concerned with the proposal to exempt (i) the natural flow of a watercourse or lake for the purpose of maintaining a construction site and (ii) the pumping of water from a watercourse for the purpose of maintaining a dewatered construction site.

CELA observed that the Ministry’s proposal had the potential to cause adverse impacts on the ecosystem given that the diversion of flow from a watercourse has the potential to alter the natural characteristics of a watercourse and cause impacts on water quality, water quantity, aquatic habitat and biodiversity. Moreover, the proposal did not place any upper limit on the amount of the diversion of water flow or define the scale or magnitude of the construction project. This has the potential to allow large-scale construction projects which divert very significant amounts of water flow from a water course over an extended period of time to be exempt from Ministry oversight.


Green Budget Coalition 2016 recommendations

CELA is one of the 16 organizations that comprise the Green Budget Coalition (GBC). The GBC has published its recommendations for the upcoming 2016 budget. Our suggestions included implementing a radon tax credit, providing new transit spending, increasing green infrastructure on First Nations land, increasing funding for the Species at Risk Act, and establishing a Canada Water Fund that supports Canada’s fresh water industry.

Strengthening the MNRF’s Blueprint for Change

CELA made submissions to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) on its proposal,A Blueprint for Change: A Proposal to modernize and strengthen the Aggregate Resources Act policy framework. We addressed several shortcomings in the proposal and made 11 recommendations that would strengthen the proposal. We suggested that every proposal for a new facility or an expansion under the ARA should require a demonstration of need and that the MNRF should develop a comprehensive plan on how to integrate incentives for recycling into the licensing process, as well as the management and operations of existing facilities.

Responding to a proposal to permit on-going use of BNST

Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and Chemical Sensitivities Manitoba (CSM) responded to Environment Canada’s proposal to manage Benzenamine, N-phenyl-, Reaction Products with Styrene and 2,4,4-Trimethylpentene (BNST). We raised concerns about the proposal to amend the prohibition of BNST under the Prohibition Regulations. We feel it weakens Canada’s management approach for BNST and lacks an adequate, valid rationale. In addition to pointing out weaknesses in the proposal, we also made recommendations that would strengthen it.

Improving the Environmental Assessment Processes

CELA joined several other public interest organizations to encourage the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna to immediately review Canada’s environmental assessment processes. We made several recommendations that would improve the processes, such as creating an independent panel to lead the public review,and inviting Indigenous governments and organizations to co-design the public review process.


The EDUTOX Video Challenge

This challenge invites young people to make short videos (maximum two minutes) that outline the links between toxins and health and, most importantly, motivate action. Videos can highlight simple actions that people can take to reduce exposures to common toxins, such as reading product labels and learning what is in the products we use, changing the way we clean our homes, or reducing exposure to hazardous substances used in hobbies or at work. The deadline for submissions is March 21, 2016 and winners will be announced in May. Prizes are valued at over $7,600, including cash scholarships, electronics and merchandise for the top eight winning videos.

BLOG: The resurrection of Federal Environmental Assessment?

Over two years ago, CELA published an “in memoriam” blog to lament the untimely demise of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 1992. It had been repealed and replaced in 2012 with much weaker legislation. However, the federal government may now be poised to resurrect a new and improved environmental assessment law. CELA’s Rick Lindgren explains.

BLOG: Is a tax credit for radon remediation in Canada’s future?

Radon kills about 3300 Canadians a year. CELA’s Kathleen Cooper explores the federal government’s action on radon in Canada. Is a solution around the corner?