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November 2012

Help for local governments on the frontlines of a changing climate

8 November, 2012

Local governments in BC are on the frontlines of the impacts of climate change. They need to become engaged in climate change adaptation – defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as an adjustment in response to actual or expected climate change, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities – in order to protect themselves from potentially devastating impacts that may arise from single events like storms or longer term incremental changes like sea level rise.  To assist, West Coast Environmental Law has released a new resource, Preparing for Climate Change: An Implementation Guide for Local Governments in BC. This guide looks at how local governments can use available legal and planning tools to support climate change adaptation strategies and goals.

A new resource from West Coast Environmental Law

Because most of us live in the built environment of cities, we sometimes forget that we are connected to ecosystems, and affected by changes in the natural environment. Seeing news coverage of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to New York City and other communities in its path is a sobering reminder of our vulnerability.

CEAA 2012 – On the Ground

7 November, 2012

Jay Nelson has a unique perspective on the new Canadian Environmental Assessment act, 2012 (CEAA 2012); as the lawyer for the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) in the current environmental assessment of the controversial New Prosperity mine project at Fish Lake (Teztan Biny), he has been grappling with how CEAA 2012 works on the ground.  In a recent webinar Jay shared the opportunities and challenges posed by CEAA 2012. 

Jay Nelson has a unique perspective on the new Canadian Environmental Assessment act, 2012 (CEAA 2012).  Jay has been representing the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) in the current environmental assessment (EA) of the controversial New Prosperity mine project at Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) in BC’s Chilcotin Region, and so has been grappling with how CEAA 2012 works on the ground.

Cohen Commission: Put Wild Salmon First!

2 November, 2012

The final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River was released on October 31st, contrary to rumours that the document would not be made public.  The report, while not finding any single cause of declining Fraser River sockeye, made 75 recommendations about how Canada could better protect salmon in British Columbia.  Many of them stand in direct contrast to recent cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) scientists and other staff and weakening of the Fisheries Act. 

The final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River was released on October 31st, contrary to rumours that the document might not be made public.  The report, while not finding any single cause of declining Fraser River sockeye, made 75 recommendations about how Canada could better protect salmon in British Columbia.  Many of them stand in direct contrast to recent cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (D

Environmental law is funny (really)

1 November, 2012

When asked in polls, a large majority of Canadians think that it’s important for BC and Canada to have strong environmental laws.  The trouble is, when public interest environmental lawyers start talking about different models of environmental assessment, or the legal definition of “critical habitat”, most people’s eyes just glaze over.  So it’s always great when comedians weigh in about environmental law issues – explaining the significance of these critical issues, in a way that doesn’t seem too technical, isn’t too much of a downer and may actually make people smile.  Even though the issues are serious, and sometimes sad, even environmental lawyers can use a chuckle. 

As public interest environmental lawyers, we think that it’s important for BC and Canada to have strong environmental laws.  And, at least when asked in polls, a large majority of Canadians agree.

The trouble is, when you start talking about different models of environmental assessment, or the legal definition of “critical habitat”, most people’s eyes just glaze over.  Sometimes we feel challenged to explain – in plain English – why these technical words make a difference to our clean water and air and healthy wildlife.