1 August 2016 | West Coast Environmental Law

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August 2016

BC’s Climate Plan shows why real leadership requires accountability

31 August, 2016

Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and her staff are in the process of working with the provinces to develop a national Climate Change framework. But, as BC’s recently released “Climate Leadership Plan” demonstrates, it is absolutely essential that the framework include mechanisms to keep politicians honest about their climate leadership (or lack thereof). BC released a “plan” that fails to explain how BC will meet its goals. In the following open letter to Minister McKenna, we call for a national framework that includes the accountability and transparency that will ensure that provinces take on their fair share of fighting climate change and that they are rigorous in figuring out how to achieve those goals. 

[Update: 7 October 2016 - We received a response from Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, today acknowledging our open letter and confirming that "Ensuring transparency and accountability for planning and implementing climate actions is a priority for the Government of Canada." We appreciate Minister McKenna's response.]

Celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday with a Deep Blue Sea Legacy: Nominating New Canadian Marine World Heritage Sites

25 August, 2016

Next year Canada turns 150. What better present than a gift to the future: preservation of our outstanding heritage sites?  

Parks Canada is leading a new public process to nominate more Canadian sites to the World Heritage List just in time for our birthday celebrations. From Coast Salish clam gardens to endangered whales’ feeding grounds, Pacific coastal waters are home to countless areas worthy of protection as World Heritage Sites.  Have your say on what gets protected on the List, and consider proposing irreplaceable marine sites to be recognized as part of our natural heritage treasure vault.

 

 

 

Next year Canada turns 150. What better present than a gift to the future: preservation of our outstanding heritage sites?  

Twelve pillars of a “next generation” of Canadian environmental assessment

25 August, 2016

Canada needs a visionary new approach to assessing proposals that could impact the environment. This August, West Coast published the proceedings of the Federal Environmental Assessment Reform Summit it hosted in Ottawa in May 2016. Attended by over 30 experts from across the country, the Summit explored leading-edge solutions to key issues facing environmental assessment in Canada.  We compiled the key principles that Summit participants reached consensus on into twelve integrated “pillars” of environmental assessment. 

Canada has an opportunity to build a legacy law: a next-generation environmental assessment act that safeguards communities, the environment and democracy.  The government recognized this fact in June 2016 when it announced an independent review of federal environmental assessment (EA) processes.  The four-person expert panel appointed to conduct the review has until January 31, 2017 to do widespread consultations and submit a report to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change with its recommendations on how to build a stronger, more credible EA framework for Canada. This visionary framework must be based in meaningful public participation and collaboration with Indigenous governments.  Read up on the groundwork laid by these twelve pillars from the EA Reform Summit.

 

 

The jury is out: Canada needs a visionary new approach to assessing proposals that could impact the environment. We have written previously about how Canada’s environmental assessment (EA) regime is broken (here and here, for example).

What are we going to do about Site C?

15 August, 2016

As the Site C dam project forges ahead, West Coast's RELAW Project Manager Maxine Matilpi considers difficult questions about the future of the Peace River Valley and the Indigenous communities fighting to preserve their territories.

 

 

It's the end of the day and our shared office is hot and stuffy. My colleague on the RELAW project, Georgia, asks with all seriousness, “What are we going to do about Site C?”

Lessons from a summer at West Coast

12 August, 2016

West Coast Environmental Law Association was lucky to have four talented students join us this summer from law schools across the country. As the season winds down, our summer law students share their reflections on an exciting few months learning about the ins and outs of environmental law.

From left to right: Alex Kirby, Sina Kazemi, Monisha Sebastian and Brianna Meyer.

Catching up with science: Salmon biodiversity and Aboriginal fisheries rights in BC

3 August, 2016

At West Coast Environmental Law, we are passionate about collaboration and integrating science with law. When new, ground-breaking studies are published in the scientific world, it presents a unique opportunity to identify the implications this might have on shaping and influencing laws.

A recent study, “Species and population diversity in Pacific salmon fisheries underpin Indigenous food security” published by SFU researchers Holly Nesbitt and Dr. Jonathan Moore, is a fantastic example.

At West Coast Environmental Law, we are passionate about collaboration and integrating science with law. When new, ground-breaking studies are published in the scientific world, it presents a unique opportunity to identify the implications this might have on shaping and influencing laws.