November 2019 Bulletin

Inside CELA

CELA’s New Website!

All the amazing resources CELA has to offer, now on a shiny new website!

CELA has completely revamped our website – all of our publications, reports, blog posts, presentations and much more are easier to find.  In the coming months, you’ll notice continued improvements as we build more thematic content and design campaigns to help you engage on the issues you care about.  Please be patient as we fix the kinks and add more and better content!

At CELA, our mission is to protect human health and our environment by seeking justice for those harmed by pollution and working to improve policies.  We envision our website as a robust and informative resource for all those working to seek environmental justice


‘Tis the Season…


As your inboxes are bombarded with emails about Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday deals, it’s nice to turn our attention to how we can do some good.  Enter #GivingTuesday – a global, annual movement for giving and volunteering.

As you’ll know from our past updates about cuts to our legal aid funding, CELA will be ramping up our fundraising in the coming months.  Watch your inboxes next week for more information about how you can support CELA’s work through a donation to the CELA Foundation.  Join the movement and donate on #GivingTuesday.

CELA’s Pivotal Role in Ontario’s Clean Water Act

As CELA enters our 50th Anniversary year, we’re celebrating our role at the forefront of environmental justice for a half century.

This month, we’re profiling the critical role that CELA played establishing Ontario’s Clean Water Act2006 (CWA), whose purpose is to protect our existing and future sources of drinking water.

In 2004, CELA led a collaborative effort to provide the government with expectations for the legislation.  We followed the nascent law through the legislative and regulation making processes, holding the government to account to make certain the resulting law was strong and effective.  To ensure community members were engaged and supported through the first round of source water protection planning process, we founded the “Water Guardians Network”.

While the law has been in place for over ten years, we continue to advocate for its protection and robust implementation.  That kind of persistence and long-term commitment underpins CELA’s approach to advocacy, and is critical to sustaining strong environmental laws!

Upcoming Events

Environmental Toolkit Webinar – Private Prosecutions

Ramani Nadarajah will be presenting at an upcoming webinar hosted by the Sustainability Network, discussing the role of private prosecutions in enforcing environmental law.  The webinar will take place on December 12th at 1:00pm – registration is required.

shorePhoto Credit: Anastasia Lintner

Public Legal Education This Month

Webinar – Septic Program Reinspection

CELA and the Federation of Ontario Cottagers Association co-hosted a webinar this week about Ontario’s septic reinspection programs.  The webinar was attended by over 100 members of the public and featured the author of a newly released report, Dr Sarah Minnes from the University of Saskatchewan.  A recording of the webinar is available on CELA’s YouTube channel.

Assembly of First Nations Water Symposium

CELA was invited to present at the Assembly of First Nations water symposium in Toronto last week.  The session focused on how ENGO’s can be better allies in addressing water issues with First Nations.  CELA’s Theresa McClenaghan and Kerrie Blaise presented on CELA’s mandate, services and water and drinking water protection work with First Nations.

Student Presentations on Environmental Law

CELA staff lawyer Ramani Nadarajah spoke earlier this month about environmental law to engineering students at McMaster University.  She also addressed law students at Osgoode Hall Law School about public interest and community lawyering.

cliffsPhoto Credit: Michael Lucifora

Climate Change Symposium

CELA’s ED Theresa McClenaghan spoke on the topic of Canadian climate law and vulnerable communities at the University of Western Ontario’s Climate Change symposium earlier this month. The presentation built on a survey of Canadian federal and provincial statutory climate law updated by CELA law student Sara Desmerais earlier this year.  Theresa’s presentation concluded that there is widespread agreement across the country of the need for climate action as evidenced by legislation adopted by the various governments, but that so far there is not enough attention to protecting vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change.

CELA in the Courts

CELA Clients Apply to Intervene in Carbon Pricing Appeals

On behalf of two clients based in Ontario, CELA recently applied to the Supreme Court of Canada for leave (permission) to intervene in two carbon pricing appeals that will be heard in March 2020. The appeals focus on whether the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is within the federal government’s constitutional authority.  Earlier this year, both the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal and the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of the legislation. If CELA’s clients are permitted to intervene in this precedent-setting case, their legal arguments will be served and filed in late December.

CELA Works to Protect Residents’ Drinking Water

In November, CELA’s client, Citizens Against Melrose Quarry, participated in the second pre-hearing conference held by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal  in relation to a proposed quarry in Tyendinaga Township in southeastern Ontario. In 2018, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry referred residents’ outstanding concerns about the quarry (e.g. protection of the local aquifer that supplies drinking water) to a public hearing under the Aggregate Resources Act. It is anticipated that the Tribunal hearing will commence in the spring of 2020.

News & Activities

Lead in Drinking Water


There has been widespread media coverage recently about dangerously high levels

of lead in our drinking water.  Dozens of articles appeared in Canadian newspapers this month, the result of a year-long investigative journalism project by Global News, the Toronto

 Star and the Institute for Investigative Journalism.  CELA’s recently published report on lead in our drinking water was a key resource for the investigation, and includes multiple recommendations to protect Canadians, including asking the province of Ontario to change legislation to require a minimum of 75% of municipal lead service lines to homes be replaced within 3-5 years. 


CELA Raises Concerns about Ontario’s Bill 132

The Ontario government recently introduced omnibus Bill 132, which proposes to amend 14 environmental laws, including the Aggregate Resources ActCrown Forest Sustainability ActEnvironmental Protection Act, Ontario Water Resources Act, Pesticides Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and several other statutes. In late November, CELA lawyer Richard Lindgren appeared as a witness before the Standing Committee on General Government to raise various objections to Bill 132, which appears to be the latest chapter in the provincial government’s de-regulation agenda.

The full version of CELA’s extensive comments on the omnibus bill are available on our website.

CELA’s voice was echoed by many other concerned citizens, ENGO’s and citizen groups from around Ontario.  Approximately a dozen individuals and groups made in-person deputations to the Standing Committee on General Government, including some for whom this was their first appearance at committee – a daunting undertaking for even a seasoned policy professional.

The public outcry over the rushed consultation process and the complexity of the enormous omnibus bill was a clear indication of public concern for the environment.  CELA is committed to continuing to provide expertise and resources to support submissions from concerned citizens.

The deadline for members of the public to submit written briefs to the Standing Committee on Bill 132 is Friday, November 29th.

Water Bottling Moratorium Extended

CELA is supportive of the Ontario government’s plans to further extend the moratorium on groundwater bottling.  The Ministry has indicated it needs more time to complete its analysis of the water quantity review and consult with the public.  In a recent blog post, CELA lawyer Anastasia Lintner explains the proposed extension and CELA’s past involvement in the groundwater management review.

Photo Credit: Dominic Ali

Urgent Canadian Action is Needed on PFAS – the Forever Chemicals

The class of chemicals called PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) are often referred to as ‘the forever chemicals’ because they are highly persistent in the environment and will take hundreds if not thousands of years to disappear from soil and groundwater.  CELA is shining a light on the dangers and health impacts of these chemicals in our newly released report.  CELA researcher and paralegal Fe de Leon and environmental consultant Bev Thorpe have written an excellent primer on PFAS and why we need to concerned.

CELA Comments on Proposed Changes to Regulation 903 (Wells)

Ontario has recently proposed amendments to Regulation 903, which sets out requirements for the construction, cleaning, maintenance, abandonment and reporting of wells throughout the province. Over the years, CELA, the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and other commentators have criticized the continuing inadequacy of this important regulation. CELA concludes that the three amendments being proposed at this time are minor and problematic.  CELA therefore calls upon the Ontario government to develop and consult upon a broader suite of substantive regulatory reforms (especially in relation to well disinfection) in order to safeguard public health and the environment.

Technical Study on Nuclear Emergency Preparedness not Publicly Released

CELA provided written interventions to Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, in response to its fall regulatory oversight meetings about nuclear power plantsnuclear substances and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ sites

In our comments for the nuclear power plant oversight report, CELA sought the Commission’s assistance in obtaining Ontario’s yet-to-be publicly released study of emergency planning. As discussed at the Pickering nuclear power plant relicensing hearing in 2018, a technical study was undertaken by Ontario to assess the impacts of  weather and topographical features on dose projection modelling in the event of a radiological release.  CELA noted the urgent and pressing need for the nuclear regulator to access this technical study, review it in full and provide a public account of its findings.  This remains an outstanding matter.

Uranium Mines should be Reviewed for Impacts of Climate Change

Climate change was not a consideration that factored into decommissioning for Canada’s historical uranium mine sites, and thus in CELA’s intervention to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, we noted a pressing need to include climate change within the scope of the annual review process. We also recommended that decommissioning plans for currently operating uranium mine sites be required to consider climate effects.  We asked the Commission to consider its role in developing regulations to ensure climate change is considered in mine closure planning. This matter will be considered by the Commission at an upcoming meeting. CELA was not provided an opportunity to intervene in person.

CELA Supportive of Proposed Changes to Biogas Rules for Farms

CELA is supportive of the Government of Ontario’s proposed changes to biogas rules that would allow farmers to expand the emerging renewable natural gas market in Ontario.  The government is undertaking a consultation process that will look at opportunities to enable biogas upgrading to produce renewal natural gas on-farm.

The Faces of CELA: Lawrence Gunther

What is your role and how long have you been involved with CELA?

I founded the charity Blue Fish Canada in 2012; focussed on water quality, fish health andLawrence_Gunther informing and inspiring the next generation of conservation-minded recreational anglers. In late 2016 CELA approached me to be part of the Healthy Great Lakes initiative, which I felt was a good fit given that recreational fishing on the Lakes represents a $8-billion annual economic driver and contributes to the socio-economic stability of shoreline communities.  [read more]

BONUS – Check out Blue Fish Canada’s excellent podcast series at