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Environmental Law Alert Blog: RISING to the challenge and protecting our communities and our coastlines

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

RISE, a recent competition organized by Simon Fraser University, asked entrants to come up with a visionary solution to make the greater Vancouver area more resilient to sea level rise. West Coast Environmental Law teamed up with DG Blair from the BC Stewardship Centre and Cathy LeBlanc, a senior planner at the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development to propose that an “old” idea—relying on natural shorelines to create a buffer zone for seaside properties—was an effective means to protect our communities from the impacts of rising seas if it was applied in a (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Foresters, biologists, planners take on the “fundamental impacts” of Climate Change

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Governments and businesses rely heavily on the advice of professionals on a wide range of environmental, resource management and land use planning decisions. That’s why it’s critical that the professionals who are making key decisions about our ecosystems and the evolution of our communities know about current climate science, and incorporate it into their recommendations to government and industry.West Coast Environmental Law is excited that four BC professional associations – representing 9,000 foresters, biologists and planners – are showing the way – today (July 8th) publicly releasing an unprecedented “Professional Leadership in a Changing Climate: (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Why amendments to Bill 24 don’t protect agricultural land

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thank you to everyone who spoke up to oppose Bill 24 – the proposed Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, 2014.  Your voices played an important role in slowing the progress of this bill and in convincing the government that changes to the Bill were necessary. So we have momentum.  But unfortunately the  government’s changes do not change the fact that the bill undermines legal protection for farmland. We continue to press the government to shelve Bill 24 and to undertake some real consultation on how agricultural land should be managed in BC.

Thank you (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: The government invites you to “adjust” BC’s park laws

Friday, April 4, 2014

It’s generally bad news for the environment & democracy when the government rewrites laws at the request of an industry.  But when it comes to provincial parks, the BC government has gone one step further, and actually has an official policy setting out how industry should go about proposing legislative amendments. The “Park Boundary Adjustment Policy” (the Policy) invites industry to propose “adjustments” to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act – which creates and is intended to protect BC’s parks. The Policy itself requires industry to conduct “research” activities related to their proposal to (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: How Pioneer Forest was saved

Thursday, February 20, 2014

In June 2012 word went around our community that Pioneer Forest park – heavily used from 1966 – was going to be sold. The information about the pending sale of the park found its way to some concerned citizens who were not about to let this happen. We engaged Patrick Canning, an environmental lawyer, to help with our battle and were thrilled to receive a Grant from the West Coast Environmental Law Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund. After a long process, the forest has now been transferred to the City of Nanaimo and is a dedicated park. (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Park Amendment bill paves the way for industrial exploration?

Friday, February 14, 2014

The BC Parks Service says that the provincial parks and conservancies are a “public trust” for the “protection of natural environments for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public.” These noble sentiments are difficult to square with Bill 4, the “Park Amendment Act, 2014”, introduced yesterday (Thursday, February 13th) into the BC legislature.  Bill 4 allows for industry (and others) to carry out “research” in provincial parks related to pipelines, transmission lines, roads and other industrial activities that might require park land.  It also reduces legal protection for smaller parks and enables (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: On a “recycling facility”, Hazardous Waste and the Fraser River

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tuesday night (February 4th) the City of Chilliwack passed a bylaw intended to allow the development of a controversial hazardous waste recycling facility immediately adjacent to the Fraser River.  That’s a mistake on so many levels – but the law allows local governments to make mistakes. But the law does require the City of Chilliwack to hear from the public in a fair and open way.  That’s West Coast Environmental Law wrote to the City of Chilliwack to recommend that it hold off passing the bylaw, and instead re-open public hearings into the contentious (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Say no to cosmetic pesticide use

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It was only two years ago that Premier Christie Clark promised that the province would ban cosmetic pesticide use– pesticide use on lawns and ornamental plants.  But much has happened in a year, and the province is instead currently consulting on regulations that will allow cosmetic pesticide use – as long as a commercial lawn care company or other licenced applicator actually applies the pesticides. Between now and December 8th (when the consultation closes) the BC government needs to hear (yet again) that British Columbians want and deserve a ban on this unnecessary pesticide (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Will local government election rules silence the public?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Local government elections should be about communities discussing their problems, and electing people who will address those problems.  Making a home-made lawn-sign or printing a few leaflets should be a basic right.  Unfortunately, major changes being considered for the Local Government Act would require not just big-moneyed advertisers, but just about anyone who wants to speak out during a local government election (beyond sharing their personal views with a few friends), to register. These proposals do not recognize the intimidation that technical requirements – and especially vague technical requirements – pose for local individuals (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Should water managers put their head in the sand about climate change, or not?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Recently West Coast Staff Lawyer, Deborah Carlson, spoke to the Climate Change Committee of the BC Water and Waste Association (BCWWA) about whether local governments and professionals dealing with water management more or less likely to be sued if they seriously examine for climate impacts. The answer should be obvious, but we're hearing this question more and more.  Our view is that responsible governments – governments that inform themselves about the best available climate science and the likely impacts on their communities – are less, rather than more likely, to be successfully sued.

Recently the (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: No one should have to worry about their children playing in the grass

Monday, April 22, 2013

We’re asking all political parties to support banning the use, sale and retail display of cosmetic pesticides used on public and private lands – something only the provincial government has the power to do.  How can you help? Spread the word, share this blog post with your friends, email BC’s party leaders and find out what they’re doing to help ban the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides. A Guest Post by Nazanine Parent, cancer survivor and Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer.

A Guest Post by Nazanine Parent, cancer survivor and Canadian Cancer (Read more…) BC and Yukon volunteer.  The West Coast Environmental Law Association has been working closely with the Canadian Cancer Society and other organizations to press for a ban on cosmetic pesticide use in BC. 

Top 5 reasons to ban cosmetic pesticides

read more

. . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: No one should have to worry about their children playing in the grass

Environmental Law Alert Blog: No one should have to worry about their children playing in the grass

Monday, April 22, 2013

We’re asking all political parties to support banning the use, sale and retail display of cosmetic pesticides used on public and private lands – something only the provincial government has the power to do.  How can you help? Spread the word, share this blog post with your friends, email BC’s party leaders and find out what they’re doing to help ban the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides. A Guest Post by Nazanine Parent, cancer survivor and Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer.

A Guest Post by Nazanine Parent, cancer survivor and Canadian Cancer (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: No one should have to worry about their children playing in the grass

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Privatizing Salmon Protection: The Failure of the Riparian Areas Regulation

Thursday, March 28, 2013

In BC, key protection for fish habitat is supposed to be provided by the Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) – a law intended to ensure that residential and other development is set back from the waterways that provide critical fish habitat on lands regulated by local governments. Unfortunately, this law is not working because the RAR turns responsibility for assessing exactly what is needed to protect fish habitat over to private professionals – consultants hired by the developer.  If that’s not the fox guarding the hen house, it’s at least the fox hiring the guard. 

. . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Privatizing Salmon Protection: The Failure of the Riparian Areas Regulation

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Municipality without people is a Jumbo of a problem

Monday, March 11, 2013

When is a municipality not a municipality? When no one lives there.  West Coast Environmental Law is proud to support the West Kootenay Ecosociety in their challenge to the the Jumbo Glacier Resort Mountain Municipality – a “municipality” without people, with a mayor and council appointed by the cabinet, created to facilitate the development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort.   We hope that this case will establish that a municipality is a fundamental unit of democracy – not a tool that can be manipulated for the benefit of a large developer. 

When is a

. . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Municipality without people is a Jumbo of a problem

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Time to turn our transportation pyramid right-side up

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Copenhagen is the world’s poster-child for bicycle-friendly transportation.   But that’s partly because they have aggressive goals for what transportation should look like.  Check out Copenhagen’s Transportation Pyramid, which prioritizes biking and walking over all other modes of transportation.  In essence the Copenhagen Transportation Pyramid turns North American upside-down transportation planning right-side up, and it’s worth imagining what we would need to do if we adopted similar goals. 

Denmark, and in particular Copenhagen, is the world’s poster-child for bicycle-friendly transportation.   But that’s partly because they have aggressive goals for what transportation should

. . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Time to turn our transportation pyramid right-side up

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Pesticide Incidents confirm that domestic pesticides pose risks

Friday, May 11, 2012

As the BC Legislature’s Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides grapples with the question of whether to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides, a recent report by Health Canada seems to confirm that humans, pets and the environment have something to fear from such pesticides.  The Pesticide Incident Reporting Program – Third Annual Report, released on April 27th, found that a large portion of reported pesticide poisonings and other unexpected side effects in Canada involve domestic pesticides used in people’s homes.

As the BC Legislature’s Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides grapples with the question of

. . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Pesticide Incidents confirm that domestic pesticides pose risks

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Lessons from the world’s top Environmental Law Conference

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Public Interest Environmental Law Conference held each year in Eugene Oregon is, perhaps, the Mecca of environmental lawyers.  It brings together literally thousands of lawyers, law students, community activists, and others to discuss whether and how the law can be used to protect the environment.  This year – the 30th Conference – West Coast Environmental Law had a good contingent: Lawyers Josh Paterson and Andrew Gage, and Interns Nicole Petersen and Julia Martignoni.  Andrew and Julia pool their collective impressions, lessons and views, to talk about some of the things that they

. . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Lessons from the world’s top Environmental Law Conference

Environmental Law Alert Blog: The environment needs your voice for 2 important public consultations

Friday, January 27, 2012

The record level of public engagement shown in the recent BC government consultations on cosmetic pesticides (8,700 people) shows that democracy is alive and well in BC. Whether you were one of the thousands of people who made their views known in that consultation or not, why not raise your voice for the environment in one of the other public consultations that the government is carrying out?  Right now you can make your views known on the government's proposed, sweeping "Environmental Mitigation Policy" and/or on a program to fund energy efficiency retro-fits through the energy

. . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: The environment needs your voice for 2 important public consultations

Environmental Law Alert Blog: The legal arguments in favour of a cosmetic pesticide ban

Monday, November 7, 2011 Today (November 7th) I’m appearing before the BC Legislature’s Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides to argue in fav… . . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: The legal arguments in favour of a cosmetic pesticide ban

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Local governments on the south coast make a move on oil tankers

Thursday, October 13, 2011 At the end of September, West Coast lawyers hit the Union of B.C. … . . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Local governments on the south coast make a move on oil tankers

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Local governments take a stand on nature and climate strategy

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 Several days spent at the end of September at UBCM, the annual gatheri… . . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Local governments take a stand on nature and climate strategy

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Victory: CRD says no to Marine Trail Resort

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 On September 13th, 2011, the Land Use Committee A of the Capital Regional District (CRD) voted to reject a rezoning proposal t… . . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Victory: CRD says no to Marine Trail Resort

Environmental Law Alert Blog: BC law fails to protect fish habitat

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 A BC Court of Appeal decision issued earlier this month (July 5th) has conf… . . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: BC law fails to protect fish habitat

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Halalt Nation’s win protects Chemainus River

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 Last week (on July 13th), Madame Justice Wedge of the BC Supreme Court side… . . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Halalt Nation’s win protects Chemainus River

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Rap on Rapid Transit

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 Anyone interested in rapid transit in Vancouver has until this Friday, April 22nd to tell Translink what they think about the propos… . . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Rap on Rapid Transit