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environmental legal aid

Sign the Mount Polley petition to demand accountability

9 March, 2017

MiningWatch needs your help to ensure accountability for the Mount Polley tailings pond disaster. In late 2016 the mining watchdog launched a private prosecution (with the help of our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund), but the federal government is now trying to stay the charges. You can help by signing this petition asking Prime Minister Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, and Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc to make sure the prosecution proceeds.

 

2017: A Look Ahead to Protect Nature, Climate and Communities

5 January, 2017

Check out our short video to meet some of our talented lawyers and see what we're most excited about for 2017!

From providing legal aid for communities to defend their environment, to revitalizing Indigenous laws, and holding fossil fuel companies accountable for their role in climate change – this year the West Coast team will continue working toward a better future for people and the environment in Canada.

Check out our short video to meet some of our talented lawyers and program staff, and see what we're most excited about in our work for 2017.

Mount Polley Mine private prosecution: Stepping up to demand accountability

25 October, 2016

In the face of a disaster like the Mount Polley mine disaster, swift action is essential to send a message to industry that breaking environmental laws will not be tolerated. In this case, when the government failed to act in a timely manner, MiningWatch Canada brought a private prosecution to enforce Canada’s environmental laws. West Coast Environmental Law’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund provided financial support for this important legal action.

Filing charges at the Provincial Court in Williams Lake, BC (Photo: Robert Moberg).

MiningWatch Canada files charges against BC government and Mount Polley Mine for 2014 tailings pond disaster

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Williams Lake, BC – MiningWatch Canada today filed a private prosecution against the B.C. government and the Mount Polley Mining Corporation for violations of the federal Fisheries Act in connection with the largest mine waste disaster in Canadian history.

Government charges (finally) laid in Lemon Creek jet fuel spill – thanks to private prosecution

29 July, 2016

In 2013 a jet fuel truck operated by Executive Flight Centre, and servicing BC Ministry of Forests firefighting efforts, plunged off a road in the Slocan Valley, crashing into the pristine Lemon Creek and dumping 33,000 litres into the river, compromising drinking water and killing fish. The province investigated, concluding that no charges were warranted. The case would have been closed, but for the efforts of Marilyn Burgoon, a resident of the Slocan Valley. Last Friday (July 22nd) a federally appointed prosecutor laid new charges against both Executive Flight Centre and the BC Government.

Photo courtesy of Valley Voice

In 2013 a jet fuel truck operated by Executive Flight Centre, and servicing BC Ministry of Forests firefighting efforts,

This Earth Day: Celebrating the campaign to get local government out of the fossil fuel business

22 April, 2016

To celebrate Earth Day 2016, we’re highlighting the remarkable work of Divest Victoria and their campaign – with help from our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF) – to allow communities across BC to divest from fossil fuels. As a result of their work, this September BC’s local governments will be considering a resolution calling for fossil fuel-free investment options for their own investment portfolios. If the resolution goes forward, this good news story has the potential to send a powerful message to the fossil fuel industry.

Fort Nelson First Nation Shuts Down Nexen’s License to Frack

20 November, 2015

In September, the Fort Nelson First Nation won a major legal challenge at the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB) that overturned a long term water license issued to gas giant Nexen Inc for hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”). The EAB decision is an important win – setting new precedents on how water managers should deal with scientific uncertainty and the government’s obligations to consult First Nations on water use.


BC Premier Christy Clark presents on shale gas operations in BC. Photo by Province of BC (License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/legalcode)

Water win against logging giant leaves many unanswered questions

21 September, 2015

Even though water has been at the heart of logging conflicts in BC for many years, it is very rare that logging companies are actually made to pay financially when they harm watercourses.  That’s why a rare out-of-court settlement announced this past week between logging giant, Tolko Industries, and Chilcotin Rancher, Randy Saugstad, is good news.  But it also raises questions about why a rancher should have to fight for 6 years for compensation for harm to his water, and why logging companies so rarely need to pay when they harm water sources.

Even though water has been at the heart of logging conflicts in BC for many years, it is very rare that logging companies are actually made to pay financially when they harm watercourses.  That’s why a rare out-of-court settlement announced this past week between logging giant, Tolko Industries, and Chilcotin Rancher, Randy Saugstad, is good news.  But it also raises questions about why a rancher should have to fight for 6 years for compensation for harm to his water, and why logging companies so rarely need to pay when they harm water sources. 

Cowichan Watershed Board Goes for the Flow

21 September, 2015

A recent decision of the Environmental Appeal Board raises important questions about the ways that we can assist natural ecosystems in adapting to climate change. The EAB confirmed a decision by the BC Government to change how water in Cowichan Lake is released into Cowichan River, to better address climate change. A belated congratulations to the Cowichan Watershed Board and their lawyer, Krista Robertson, who intervened in the appeal in support of the Cowichan River and its fish.

We’ve written a lot about the need for our communities to adapt to climate change. Less has been said about the ways that we can assist natural ecosystems in adapting to climate change, but a decision last May by the BC Environmental Appeal Board was a good first step in helping the Cowichan River, and its fish and communities, adapt to climate change.  A belated congratulations to the Cowichan Watershed Board and their lawyer, Krista Robertson, who intervened in the appeal in support of the fish, with support from our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF).

A new and improved Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund

21 January, 2015

West Coast is excited to unveil our new and improved Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF). A recent review of the EDRF’s last 5 years, which included interviews with EDRF clients, allies, lawyers, and much internal reflection, convinced us that we can be more effective and efficient by strategically funding cases we think we can win legally, but which also help build a community that cares about environmental protection.

West Coast is excited to unveil our new and improved Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF).  For the last 25 years West Coast Environmental Law has offered environmental legal aid to British Columbians through the EDRF (our 20th Anniversary publication, On the Ground, reports some of the many and varied wins and accomplishments that the fund has had). 

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