September 2022 Bulletin

Increasing Indigenous Engagement

The work of CELA and the Healthy Great Lakes program has been significantly improved over the years by the wisdom and contributions of many Indigenous advisors, consultants and collaborators. We understand and value the relationship that Indigenous Peoples have with water. We recognize, and continue to prioritize addressing, the significant challenges with access to clean water that too many Indigenous communities face.

In alignment with CELA’s strategic plan and mandate of furthering access to justice and environmental protection, we are committed to increasing our engagement and outreach to Indigenous Peoples and communities throughout the province. This includes determining how we can better support Indigenous involvement and participation within the Healthy Great Lakes program and improve our service delivery to Indigenous communities within our organization as a whole.

CELA recently worked with Coeuraj to identify operational and programmatic changes that would allow our work to be more connected to Indigenous land and water stewardship initiatives. Read the full blog post here.

Photo Credit – Rachel Arsenault

In Memoriam: Meinhard Doelle

CELA was saddened to learn of the sudden passing of our inspirational friend, mentor, and colleague Meinhard Doelle. Meinhard was a well-respected and knowledgeable leader in Canada’s environmental community, and he taught environmental law at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. Meinhard authored many articles, chapters, and books on environmental law and policy, and he was a widely acknowledged expert in environmental assessment and climate change. Meinhard will be deeply missed and CELA sends its condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.

Case Updates

Defending Community & Children’s Health in a Nuclear Host Community

CELA recently represented the Citizens Against Radioactive Neighbourhoods (CARN) in a legal challenge of a licensing decision by Canada’s nuclear safety regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).  CARN asked the Federal Court to strike the regulator’s issuance of a 10-year licence which would permit nuclear fuel manufacturer, BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc., to produce uranium fuel pellets at its facility located in downtown Peterborough, just metres from an elementary school and playground.

In June, the Federal Court dismissed CARN’s request for a judicial review. CELA is disappointed by the decision, however, our encouragement of local community groups to continue to participate in environmental decision-making that affects their communities, especially in areas of previous environmental contamination and as it affects children, remains unwavering.

It’s worth noting that the CNSC’s licensing decision (which CELA challenged) stated that “no later than 2026, BWXT shall present to the Commission comprehensive mid-term updates on its licensed activities”. While no details have yet been released on whether the mid-term update would include a public meeting or hearing, there remains an opportunity for local citizens and concerned groups to advocate for a full, public hearing in 2026. For more details on the case, read the full casework page here.

Proposed Waste Facility in Simcoe Forest – Update

Friends of Simcoe Forest was in court in August, seeking leave to appeal the Ontario Land Tribunal’s decision to allow a waste processing complex to be placed in the middle of the Freel County Forest. Friends of Simcoe Forests argues that the Tribunal improperly interpreted the protections for key natural heritage features in the A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. For more details on this case, visit our casework page here. CELA and FSF are now awaiting the Court’s decision.

Photo Credit – Rick Lindgren

CELA Seeking Leave to Intervene in Supreme Court Appeal

The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled in May 2022 that the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA) is unconstitutional because it impermissibly intrudes upon matters of exclusive provincial jurisdiction (e.g., natural resource development).

In June 2022, the federal government appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada. This month, CELA lawyers will be seeking leave to intervene in the appeal on behalf of three Ontario-based clients who had participated in the Alberta proceeding. 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 Client Granted Party Status in Rezoning Appeal

CELA lawyers have been retained by Keep Napanee Great (KNG), a citizens’ group concerned about potential environmental and health impacts arising from a proposed hot mix asphalt plant in Napanee, Ontario.

Earlier this year, the Napanee council unanimously refused to grant rezoning approval for the plant for environmental and planning reasons, and the proponent appealed the town’s refusal to the Ontario Land Tribunal. KNG supports the Town’s refusal and was recently granted party status by the Tribunal so that KNG can participate in the appeal hearing, which is scheduled for summer 2023. In the meantime, KNG continues to oppose the issuance of an air/noise approval for the asphalt plant under the Environmental Protection Act.

Action Alert!

Public Comment Opportunity – Application by OPG for Site-Specific Air Standards to Exceed Provincial Limits

CELA and Community Advocacy & Legal Centre recently co-hosted an information session to provide the community with information about a recent application by Ontario Power Generation for a site-specific air pollution standard for its Lennox Generation Station, located close to the Village of Bath and the Town of Napanee.

If granted, the facility would be entitled to exceed the provincial air pollution standard for a number of chemicals, all of which may cause impacts to human health.

You can submit your concerns about this proposal through the Environmental Registry of Ontario – public comments are due by September 29, 2022.  More information is available on our website.

Photo Credit – Cole78, Getty Images

Law Reform Updates

New Report – Safe Drinking Water for All

Twenty years after the release of the two reports of the Walkerton Inquiry, Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) assessed the status of the 121 recommendations made by Justice O’Connor. Safe Drinking Water for All: a Status Update on Walkerton’s Legacy, 20 years after Release of Inquiry Reports evaluates whether the recommendations continue to be implemented effectively or if there have been any failures to meet the original objectives. Access to clean drinking water is fundamental to individuals’ well-being, making it imperative that implementation is regularly assessed and closely monitored.

Overall, the picture in Ontario is one of continued success in drinking water protection. While about 80 percent of the provincial population receives their drinking water from municipal water systems, which are closely regulated, other parts of the population—mainly small and remote communities, Indigenous communities, and those who obtain their water from private wells—do not receive these protections. This bifurcated approach is inequitable, unacceptable, and endangers the health of excluded populations.

The findings in the report reiterate the concern expressed by CELA and others, including the Auditor General of Ontario and the former Environmental Commission of Ontario, that not all residents of Ontario are protected by the existing legal framework. The gaps in drinking water protection found in Safe Drinking Water for All once again underscore the importance of maintaining constant vigilance with regard to drinking water safety—as Justice O’Connor emphasized twenty years ago.

Climate Change Impacts and Vulnerable Communities

CELA is pleased to share a new law reform resource page focused on climate change impacts and vulnerable communities.

The climate crisis is also a public health and equity crisis, as the impacts of climate change are deeply unfair. Low-income people in Canada are least responsible for the devastating impacts of climate change but most impacted by them.

The resources on this new page touch on equity, health, and climate change. Several reports discuss one specific topic and approach the issue with an equity lens. Others contain a model by-law for municipalities to adopt.

On this page you can also find: (1) a brief that discusses the broad jurisdiction of municipalities to enact by-laws to tackle environmental concerns, (2) a briefing note on heat-related death tracking, and (3) a response to Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy.

Photo Credit – Ed Connor, Shutterstock

Inside CELA

Professor Miriam Diamond Recognized for Ground-Breaking Work

CELA board member Miriam Diamond was recently named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). The Royal Society bestows this honour on Canadians “who have made remarkable contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life.”  In naming Miriam as a Fellow, the RSC says she “is internationally recognized for ground-breaking work uncovering sources and pathways for exposure to persistent organic pollutants. Her research has helped to confirm serious threats to ecosystem and human health. Her work plays a significant role in engaging the public and informing policy development to address the control and elimination of toxic and persistent chemical pollutants.”

Eaerlier this year, Prof. Diamond was also appointed as the new Panel Member for Chemicals and Waste for the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environmental Facility.  

STAP Chair Rosina Dr. Bierbaum said, “Miriam’s strong scientific track record and her extensive experience in providing guidance and advice on the sound management chemicals, including in Uganda and Bangladesh, will be a major asset to the GEF, and I’m very much looking forward to working with her”.

CELA congratulates Miriam on her fantastic accomplishments!

From the Canadian Environmental Law Foundation

Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council Collection Launch

Responding to the recommendations of the Walkerton Inquiry, the Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council (ODWAC) was formed in 2004. ODWAC’s mandate is to provide advice and make recommendations to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks on drinking water quality and testing standards, as well as other drinking water matters.

To assist with preserving the environmental history of ODWAC’s work, the Canadian Environmental Law Foundation is making available ODWAC’s collection of annual reports (2004-2020) which highlight their activities, accomplishments, and initiatives.

Webinars & Resources

LIEN Annual Conference 2022 – Code Red: Protecting Vulnerable Populations from the Impact of Extreme Heat

Thursday, September 29, 2022  12:00-3:30pm ET

This year’s Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) conference will explore the rise in climate change-related extreme heat events and the need to start recognizing that we have a climate emergency and put in place protocols that protect our communities.

Click here to learn more and to register for this free session.

Topics will include:

  • Why extreme heat is a rising challenge in Canada
  • Tracking of heat-related deaths in Canada
  • Best practices on maximum heat bylaws and tenant protections in other jurisdictions
  • Exploring air conditioning as a vital service
  • Opportunity for immediate action at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels

This event is open to anyone with an interest in ending energy poverty by increasing energy access and fighting climate change.

CELA is a founding member of Low-Income Energy Network, a diverse network of organizations and individuals with a vision of an Ontario where everyone has equitable access to conservation and financial assistance programs and services to meet their basic energy needs affordably and sustainably.

Where’s the Protection? A Webinar Series on the Review and Reform of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Wednesdays from 1:00-2:15pm ET – October 12, 19 & 26, 2022

Registration is required for these free sessions; learn more and register here.

The Canadian Government will likely introduce Bill S-5, an Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), into the House of Commons this fall.

The Canadian government is at a critical phase in reforming the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). CEPA is Canada’s main environmental legislation and regulates everything from the most dangerous pollutants, to plastic manufactured items, to genetically engineered animals. Robust changes to CEPA are urgently needed during the upcoming parliamentary process if CEPA is to be protective of the environment and health in the coming years.

Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and Nature Canada invite you to a webinar series discussing CEPA reform and the need to significantly strengthen the Act. This series builds on years of work by both organizations calling for significant reform of CEPA.

CELA and Nature Canada want you to engage in the upcoming parliamentary process.  The webinars will highlight where your support and voice can be added during the parliamentary process in the coming weeks.

Webinar – Enhancing Environmental Accountability under the EBR: Review of the Law Commission of Ontario’s Discussion Paper

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 – 12:00-1:00pm ET

Registration for this free webinar is required.

The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) recently released a consultation paper that identifies issues and poses questions about how the province’s Environmental Bill of Rights could be amended to enhance environmental accountability. The LCO is currently seeking public feedback on this important topic until late November.

Webinar presenters will include Ramani Nadarajah, LCO counsel, and Richard Lindgren, CELA counsel.

Environmental Legal Toolkit – 2022 Edition

Presenter Panels take place November 15-16, 2022

Click here to register, cost is $50

Hosted by the Sustainability Network, The Environmental Legal Toolkit is designed to educate nonprofits active in the environmental field about the legal tools available to protect our air, water, land, and human health.

The Toolkit is presented in two parts:
– Part 1: A set of recordings (descriptions of which are below) which participants are to review on their own time. Each recording listed below was either recorded in the summer or if previously recorded was reviewed by the presenter and deemed to be up to date.
– Part 2: Two hour-long live panel discussions on November 15 and 16 to discuss the various modules with registrants.

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.