October 2019 Bulletin

Breaking News

Omnibus Bill to Revise more than 12 Environmental Laws; Public has 30 days to Comment on Large-scale Environmental Deregulation

Within days of the legislature resuming, after the longest break in almost 25 years, the Ontario government introduced omnibus Bill 132. It contains changes that will revise many of Ontario’s most important environment statutes, including the Aggregate Resources Act, Crown Forest Sustainability Act, Environmental Protection Act, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, Mining Act, Nutrient Management Act, Ontario Water Resources Act, Pesticides Act, Public Lands Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and other laws. CELA staff are working with other environmental organizations to prepare a comphrensive response to the Bill. With a public comment deadline of November 27th, watch for notices of how to get involved.

Inside CELA

CELA Turns 50 in 2020!

CELA has been at the forefront of making our environment cleaner, healthier and safer for everyone. We were instrumental in developing Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, getting the lead out of gasoline, banning asbestos, and achieving widespread bans and restrictions on the cosmetic use of pesticides.

As we look forward to our next 50 years of helping low-income and vulnerable clients and citizens’ groups improve the health of their communities, we are also celebrating all of our accomplishments over the last 50 years.

Did you know the CELA Foundation website hosts all of the rich history and narrative of the Environmental Beginnings project? Developed as an audio archive of Ontario’s environmental history, this valuable resource would have been lost along with the office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario were it not for CELA. Take a moment to listen to the wisdom of some of Ontario’s first environmental lawyers in private practice, insights from past deputy Ministers of the Environment, or reflections from the founders of Great Lakes United.

New CELA Website…. Coming Soon!

If you were impressed with the new website for the CELA Foundation, wait until you see what we have up our sleeves for the CELA main site. Launching in November, this new site will have an updated look and enhanced search features – you’ll still have access to CELA’s rich archive of legal and policy information, but it will be easier to find. Stay tuned!

The CELA Foundation – Supporting CELA’s Critical Work

In our last Bulletin, we told you about the re-launch of the resource library as the CELA Foundation. The Foundation will be critical to CELA’s upcoming fundraising efforts in response to reduced funding from Legal Aid Ontario. Donations are easy to make online through the new CELA Foundation website. We’ll be in touch soon about exciting new opportunities to support CELA’s work.

Upcoming Events

Webinar – An Overview of Septic System Reinspection Programs in Ontario, Nov 28

There are approximately 1.2 million residential on-site wastewater treatment systems in use in Ontario. A quarter of these are located directly adjacent to the lakes and rivers of the Great Lakes Basin. This webinar is an overview of a recently completed project by multiple stakeholders to explore successes, challenges & lessons learned from existing municipal septic re-inspection programs across Ontario, and a review of the legal context for managing rural wastewater. This webinar will take place from 1:00-2:00pm EST on Thursday, Nov. 28. Registration is required.

Access to Justice Week, Oct 28 – Nov 1

Ontario’s 4th annual Access to Justice week is underway this week. Hosted by The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG), events include screening a series of video interviews with influential people in the justice sector, designed to remind everyone of the value of Ontario’s community legal clinics.

CETA’s Civil Society Forum on Trade and Sustainable Development

To be held in Ottawa, Ontario on November 12, the Civil Society Forum provides an opportunity for Canadians of various backgrounds, including representatives from environmental groups, Indigenous peoples, and other civil society organizations, to exchange with one another, with members of the EU civil society, as well as officials of the Government of Canada and the European Commission, on matters related to the implementation of the CETA with regards to Trade and Sustainable Development, Trade and Labour, and Trade and Environment.

In-person attendance as well as virtual participation via livestreaming in English and in French is available. To receive a registration form please contact CSFregistration-inscriptionFSC@international.gc.ca before November 4th, 2019.

Photo Credit: Richard Lindgren

Public Legal Education This Month

Environmental Law Toolkit Workshop

The Sustainability Network recently hosted this popular annual workshop designed to help participants understand what laws and policies exist to protect the environment. CELA lawyers Joseph Castrilli and Ramani Nadarajah both presented, as did Richard Lindgren who gave presentations on Common Law tools and the Environmental Bill of Rights.

Provincial Policy Statement Review

CELA recently hosted a webinar about the review of the Provincial Policy Statement that was attended by over 130 people; the recording and slide deck are available on our website. The public comment period for the review closed on October 21. CELA submitted our own brief and signed on to a joint submission supported by 80 groups.

Harnessing the Winds of Change in a Nuclear World

CELA staff lawyer Kerrie Blaise recently presented at a conference in Winnipeg on the the evolution of decommissioning planning and tracing the requirements to consider radioactive and non-fuel wastes and social risk.

Photo Credit: Kerrie Blaise

Northern Ontario First Nations Conference – Environmental Justice

Earlier this month, CELA’s Kerrie Blaise joined environment professionals from over 80 Northern Ontario First Nation communities to discuss sustainability and engagement at the Northern Ontario First Nations Environment Conference hosted by EcoSuperior in Thunder Bay. Kerrie was pleased to present a summary of CELA’s services, and draw on our case work and law reform efforts in facilitating a discussion about environmental rights and justice in Indigenous communities.

Toronto-area Speaking Events

CELA staff lawyer Ramani Nadarajah spoke at a number of events in the Toronto area this month. On October 2, Ramani co-chaired the Six Minute Environmental Lawyer program at the Law Society of Ontario. At this event, CELA lawyer Richard Lindgren presented a paper on federal and provincial environmental assessment reforms.

Later in October, Ramani spoke at a panel at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law about her experience as a lawyer working for the public interest.

Photo Credit: Fe de Leon

CELA in the Courts

CELA Requests Nuclear Safety Regulator to Adopt Winnipeg Declaration on Right to Nuclear Peace

At the decommissioning hearing for the Whiteshell reactor earlier this month, CELA asked the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to adopt the “Winnipeg Nuclear Declaration 2018.” This Declaration, drafted on the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, establishes 13 pillars in respect of the Right to Nuclear Peace and Freedom from Nuclear Fear. At a recent nuclear non-proliferation conference hosted by Dr. Jonathan Black-Branch, Dean of Law at the University of Manitoba, it was unanimously consented to by the legal scholars, academics and presenters in attendance that the Declaration be brought to the attention of the CNSC for adoption in its licensing hearings. CELA awaits the CNSC’s response in its record of decision.

Defending a Forest

On November 6, 2019, CELA staff lawyer Ramani Nadarajah and articling student Amanda Montgomery will be representing Friends of Simcoe Forest (FSF), a local citizens group, at a case management conference before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. The FSF has appealed the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approval to amend the County of Simcoe’s Official Plan to allow the establishment of a waste facility in a forest.

News & Activities

Court Decision Upholds the Environmental Bill of Rights

Ontario’s Divisional Court has recently released a key judgment that upholds public participation rights under the province’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR). In his blog, CELA lawyer Richard Lindgren summarizes the case, and explains why it is an important precedent under the EBR.

Ontario Proposes Land Use Reforms

The provincial government is currently proposing significant changes to Ontario’s land use planning framework. CELA’s Richard Lindgren explains why the proposals to amend the Aggregate Resources Act and the Provincial Policy Statement under the Planning Act are problematic and likely to facilitate urban sprawl.

Great Lakes St Lawrence Collaborative Update

The Collaborative is now concentrating on recommendations for the St Lawrence, and is hosting a number of opportunities to learn about the Collaborative’s work to date and discuss proposed recommendations.We

Two webinars were recently held, and a day-long summit is coming up on Nov 25th.
CELA Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan sits on the expert advisory panel to the Collaborative, and staff member Fe de Leon and board member John Jackson are on the Great Lakes Toxics issues table.

Recent Environmental Assessment Reforms in Ontario

Considerable public and political debate continues to accompany the Impact Assessment Act, which was enacted by Parliament in June 2019 as part of the omnibus Bill C-69. Read more in CELA’s Richard Lindgren’s recent article, originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily.

The Great Lakes Lose a Dear Friend

We are sad to share the news of the passing of Lee Botts, a dear friend and Great Lakes advocate.

Lee was an inspiration for many, a mentor for young activists, and a leader across the Great Lakes. CELA board member John Jackson has shared some lovely reflections about his friend with Lee on our blog.

The Faces of CELA: Terry Rees

What is your role and how long have you been involved with CELA?
I’ve been the Executive Director of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA) for 15 years. FOCA is the largest organization of rural waterfront landowners in Canada, representing 50,000 member families in hundreds of communities, from Kenora to Cornwall. My affiliation with CELA began when I took environmental law courses at Ryerson in the early 90’s, ramped up through my interest and involvement with the Walkerton Inquiry. My connection with CELA has been a constant source of information – and inspiration – ever since. [read more]