1 Environmental Law Alert Blog | West Coast Environmental Law

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Environmental Law Alert Blog

Through our Environmental Law Alert blog, West Coast alerts you to environmental law problems and developments affecting British Columbians. It is the public voice of our Environmental Law Alert unit which is a legal “watchdog” for BC’s environment.

If you have an environmental story that we should hear about, please e-mail Andrew Gage. Also, please feel free to comment on any of the posts to this blog – but please keep in mind our policies on comments.

18 May, 2017

Oceans Day 2017 is approaching, and like many Canadians, we think it’s the perfect time of year to celebrate the seas. To pump up the excitement for West Coast’s marine program and for Oceans Day this year, we’re launching our #Oceans20 initiative.

18 May, 2017

If you’ve been following BC’s sea-level woes extra closely, you’ll know that planning for a sea-level increase of “1 metre by 2100” has become a kind of mantra for local governments and others responsible for planning and readying our communities. While a one metre increase in sea-level rise may seem substantial, we’re worried that the figure is out of date and ignores more recent science and the benefits of a precautionary, risk management approach.


17 May, 2017

On May 12, 2017, the federal government introduced Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, for first reading in Parliament. You could say that the Act has been almost half a century in the making. So, is it a win? Keeping in mind the old adage, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” we say yes, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act is definitely worth supporting, and celebrating.

This law cements the court victory against Enbridge Northern Gateway and the federal government’s reversal of the project approval last year. With that said, Bill C-48 could be strengthened and there are still opportunities to engage with the Bill through the Parliamentary process.

10 May, 2017

There will be a lot of discussion for weeks, maybe months, about who won the 2017 BC election (and who lost). But regardless of which party won, we think we can say that the environment is a big winner.

3 May, 2017

Last month, several major natural features were recognized – by governments and courts – as legal persons. First, the New Zealand government enacted a new law declaring the Whanganui River a legal person. A couple of days later, the Uttarakhand High Court, in India, granted personhood to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. And shortly thereafter the same Indian Court made a further order granting personhood to all of the rivers, glaciers, forests and other natural features of the Himalayas.  

We’ve written about the possibility of lawsuits by climate impacted communities against fossil fuel companies for their contribution to climate change, but this raises the fascinating possibility that India’s glaciers – or the Whanganui River or other natural features – could be the plaintiff in a climate lawsuit.

22 April, 2017

In honour of Earth Day, Staff Counsel Linda Nowlan looks at how the green movement can – and must – do more to keep the planet alive and thriving, as proposed by Peter Dauvergne in his book, Environmentalism of the Rich.


18 April, 2017

On April 5th, the federal government released the report of its Expert Panel that has been reviewing Canada’s environmental assessment (EA) processes. The report, Building Common Ground: A new vision for impact assessment in Canada, sets out a bold new vision of how the government should weigh options and make decisions about proposals that could affect the health of the environment and Canadians. Staff Counsel Anna Johnston shares an overview of some of the report's highlights, and how well they align with our priorities for a next-generation environmental assessment law.

12 April, 2017

In an earlier post we compared the BC Liberal and BC NDP Climate plans in advance of the upcoming election. Now that the BC Green Party has released its climate plan, Staff Counsel Andrew Gage provides an update to our scorecard evaluating the platforms of all three parties.

11 April, 2017

The Liberal Party of Canada was elected in part on the basis of a promise to restore lost environmental protections – including reviewing the “elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Act” in order to “restore lost protections and incorporate more modern safeguards.”  On March 23rd the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transportation reported on the results of its review, and made a series of recommendations related to Canada’s laws related to navigable waters. But does the Committee's report chart a path for delivering on the government’s election promises and restoring lost legal protections for the public right of navigation?

10 April, 2017

West Coast Environmental Law was happy to accept an invitation to attend a celebration in Gaaw (Old Massett) on March 25, co-hosted by Haida Gwaii CoAST and the Council of the Haida Nation, to mark the defeat of the Enbridge Northern Gateway project. Staff Counsel Gavin Smith and Eugene Kung recount their experience at this inspiring event, reminding us why it's so important to celebrate the strength of our communities in confronting environmental challenges.