May 2023 Bulletin

Hamilton Takes Critical Step to Protect Vulnerable Communities from Extreme Heat

On May 15th, the City of Hamilton’s Public Health Committee unanimously passed a motion to refer the implementation of an Adequate Temperature By-law to the 2024 budget. During the committee meeting, more than a dozen people delegated. Among them were Jacqueline Wilson, Counsel here at CELA, as well as Zoé St Pierre, our current articling student. 

Extreme heat is a public health emergency. It is one of the more noticeable and dangerous impacts of climate change and Canada will be affected more than most places by extreme heat. And, like many other climate change impacts, the worst are felt by the most vulnerable. Particularly affected by extreme heat are the elderly, people with chronic diseases, disabilities or mobility issues and young children. Due to the severity of the health impacts of extreme heat, it’s important to deal with it proactively. This is why CELA and its ally organizations have been advocating for municipalities to adopt maximum heat by-laws in rental apartments. 

The motion outlined that Hamilton City staff would investigate and prepare a report on how to implement a maximum heat bylaw for renters in Hamilton. The report would be prepared in by the end of 2023, and if approved during the Council’s budget vote, then the by-law would be in force for the summer of 2024. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Hamilton City Council, ACORN Hamilton, Low-Income Energy Network, and the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic on the implementation of this by-law.

CELA is thrilled to see the City take this critical step to protect vulnerable communities from extreme heat.

CELA Articling Student Zoé St -Pierre delegates to City of Hamilton regarding maximum heat by-law.
Photo Credit: Hamilton ACORN

Case Updates

Tribunal Hearing on Proposed Asphalt Plant

CELA lawyers continue to prepare for an Ontario Land Tribunal hearing in August on a proposed hot-mix asphalt plant within the town limits of Napanee. CELA represents a local non-profit group (Keep Napanee Great) that is a party in the Tribunal hearing, and will present expert evidence in support of Napanee’s refusal to grant rezoning approval for the plant for environmental and planning reasons.

Law Reform Updates

CELA Response to Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Proposals

Numerous First Nations and environmental organizations — including CELA — jointly submitted a detailed response to the Ontario government in May on proposed environmental assessment reforms. This submission concludes that the controversial proposals should be withdrawn and re-considered by the province because they “are highly problematic, unsupported by persuasive evidence, and contrary to the public interest purpose of the Environmental Assessment Act.” mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

CELA Response to Ontario’s Bill 97

CELA submitted comments to the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy in relation to Bill 97, An Act to Amend Various Statutes with Respect to Housing and Development – Schedules 3 and 6, namely proposed amendments to the Development Charges Act, and the Planning Act.

As well, CELA in collaboration with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) and the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN), submitted comments with respect to Schedule 7, regarding amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.

Bill 97 was reported back to the Ontario Legislature without amendments to the provisions CELA expressed concerns about. Bill 97 has been ordered for Third Reading and CELA will continue to assess the impacts on clients and communities that we serve.

Bill S-5 Passes Third Reading + Concerns about Trichloroethylene 

CELA has been following the progress of Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protect Act (CEPA), 1999, which impacts Canada’s cornerstone environmental legislation.

Bill S-5, which originated in the Senate, passed third reading in the House of Commons on May 30, 2023. It has been sent back to the Senate for consideration of amendments made by the House of Commons.

CELA staff recently penned a new blog regarding concerns about trichloroethylene, a chemical regulated under CEPA. The blog highlights that the federal government has been given yet another reminder in recent news reports of the problem it is creating for the health of Canadians with its Bill S-5 decision to split the CEPA Schedule 1 List of Toxic Substances into 2 parts and give priority to prohibiting only 13 percent of all the substances in the Schedule (i.e., those in the newly created Part 1 of the Schedule).

Photo Credit: Kristen Theriault

Inside CELA

Welcome Summer Students!

CELA encourages the growth and development of young minds who are eager to delve into the environmental and social justice community. This summer, CELA welcomes four passionate and hardworking summer students. 

Mathie Smith, a second-year law student at Western University, brings a diverse background in Geography, Urban Planning, and Environmental Studies. Her interests lie in understanding the impacts of natural and built environments on human health. Joining CELA, Mathie is excited to contribute to the ongoing efforts to create healthier urban environments. Originally from Toronto, she can often be found running, biking, or paddling around the city’s waterfront with friends.

Matthew Suchan recently finished his second year at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law (Lakehead University). Raised in Bowmanville, Ontario, Matt recently resettled to Thunder Bay, Ontario. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at McGill University focusing on the liberal arts, Matt was drawn to pursue law to promote environmental justice. Working in numerous roles focusing on environmental protection since starting his legal career, Matt looks forward to promoting environmental justice with CELA in the coming months.

Kristen Theriault just completed her first year of the JD program at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she found an affinity for mooting and constitutional law. She is hoping to further develop her knowledge of environmental law, and how to use legal means to make positive change in the world. Kristen hails from a small farming community on the west coast, just outside Portland, Oregon. She comes to the study of law from a previous career as a classically trained harpist and music teacher. She currently lives on the east side of downtown Toronto with her partner and two children, where she enjoys urban gardening, cooking, and exploring local nature trails.

Coco Wang recently finished her first year at Lincoln Alexander School of Law (Toronto Metropolitan University). Growing up in a coal-mining community in China, Coco has developed a passion for environmental justice from a young age. She completed a Bachelor in Environmental Sciences from McGill University, focusing on the ecological and social determinants of health. Prior to joining CELA, she organized political campaigns for the environment and worked in the Senate.

Each year, in addition to partnering with organizations and academic institutions that support student placements, CELA employs an articling student whose focus is on administrative and environmental law. CELA is now accepting applications for our 2024-2025 Articling Student position. Click here for more information. The deadline for applications is June 30, 2023, at 5:00 PM ET.

Clockwise from top left: Mathie Smith, Matthew Suchan, Coco Wang, Kristen Theriault

From the Foundation

TBCG Environmental Advocates Blog Contest

The Canadian Environmental Law Foundation is holding a blog writing contest for the next generation of environmental advocates.

Open to current students or recent graduates of a post-secondary program in Canada, participants are asked to answer the question “What systemic changes are needed to ensure equitable community engagement in environmental decision-making?”

The contest will run from Monday, June 12th through Friday, July 14th, 2023. Entries should be 750 words or less. An entry form with additional details and contest rules will be posted on the Foundation website when the contest opens. Winners will be announced in late August.

Feature from the Foundation

This month’s Feature from the Canadian Environmental Law Foundation looks at an Environmental Beginnings profile of the task force responsible for developing Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, which was enacted in 1993.

The systematic consensus-based work of the task force (including a CELA representative) gave people in Ontario an EBR that has endured for 30 years through several changes of government. Despite some recent amendments to the legislation, the EBR continues to provide environmental protection, ensure public participation in environmental decision-making, and enhance governmental accountability.

Webinars & Resources

Bill 23 Passed… What Happens Next?
Thursday, June 15th, 2023
6:00 – 7:00pm ET

On June 15th, CELA will be presenting at a webinar hosted by the Markham Public Library, discussing Bill 23 and the associated impacts it will have on communities, including climate resilience, community engagement, affordable housing, and protecting water and natural heritage. The webinar will also be a review of other recent land use and housing law proposals.

Registration is required.

CNSC – Indigenous Capacity Support Funding

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is making funding available through the Indigenous and Stakeholder Capacity Fund to help support Indigenous Nations and communities to build the capacity to participate in the CNSC’s regulatory processes, programs, policies, and initiatives more effectively. This funding is provided outside the context of specific licensing processes, environmental assessments, or participation in Commission proceedings.

Funding is available now with a deadline of June 20, 2023 at 11:59pm EDT; more information can be found on their website.

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 Canadian Environmental Law 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.