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Endangered Species/Wildlife

WCELA Submission on Proposed Regulations for Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area

Subject(s): 
Marine Protected Areas
Author(s): 
Linda Nowlan, Maryann Watson
Summary: 

On December 31, 2016 Environment Canada posted its notice of intent to establish the Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area. The islands and surrounding marine ecosystem are both globally and nationally significant, and support the most important breeding colonies for seabirds in British Columbia, such as tufted puffins, high concentrations of humpback and North Pacific gray whales, and Canada’s largest stellar sea lion breeding rookery.

The West Coast Environmental Law Association applauds the government’s efforts to increase the amount of marine space dedicated to conservation, and welcomes the introduction of Canada’s first marine National Wildlife Area (mNWA). In order to truly celebrate this precedent-setting new designation, we recommend that the proposed regulations for this area be significantly strengthened, so that permitted activities in designated Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are compatible both with the purposes for which they are established and with Canada’s marine conservation objectives.

This submission to the Canadian Wildlife Service contains our proposed amendments to strengthen the proposed regulations for the Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area .

Publication Date: 
January 2017
Year: 
2017
Pages: 
9
Date Catalogued: 
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Legal Backgrounder – Bill C-43: A threat to environmental safety and democracy

Subject(s): 
Federal environmental law rollbacks, Canada Marine Act, Environmental assessment, Species at risk
Author(s): 
Anna Johnston
Summary: 

On October 23, 2014, the federal government introduced Bill C-43, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures (also called the “Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2”). An omnibus bill over 475 pages long, Bill C-43 makes changes to over 50 laws and regulations. Buried in Division 16 of the Bill are proposed changes to the Canada Marine Act that, if adopted, would pose a serious threat to legal protection from and public oversight of environmental threats from activities that occur in ports, like coal storage and LNG facilities.

Bill C-43 would give Cabinet broad powers to offload regulatory, administrative and judicial responsibility for activities in ports to any person, including industry itself. The amendments would also allow the federal government to sell lands to port authorities. As a result, terrestrial species at risk on those lands would no longer be protected under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, and certain activities would no longer trigger environmental reviews under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

The proposed amendments do not contain the necessary checks and balances to ensure that environmental, health and safety risks are considered or that the public is able to meaningfully participate in decisions related to port activities. West Coast’s Legal Backgrounder – Bill C-43: A threat to environmental safety and democracy explains the legal significance of Division 16 of Bill C-43 and some examples of what the changes could allow to happen.

Related resources

Read our environmental law alert - Déjà vu – again? Another omnibus budget bill, more federal environmental law rollbacks - summarizing the conclusions of our the backgrounder.

We have also created a tool for you to write a letter to Minister Oliver and your MP calling for them to stand up for the environment and democracy and reject those harmful amendments today.

When you’ve finished, sign our petition to save Canada’s environmental laws, and tell the government the environment – and your voice – matter.

Publication Date: 
December 2014
Publisher: 
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Year: 
2014
Pages: 
4
City: 
Vancouver
Date Catalogued: 
Thursday, December 4, 2014

Andrew Thompson Award 2014 Brochure

Subject(s): 
Andrew Thompson Award 2014 Brochure
Author(s): 
West Coast Environmental Law
Summary: 
The Andrew Thompson award was established in 2002 by West Coast Environmental Law and the Thompson family as a legacy to Dr. Andrew Thompson, and was made possible through the generosity of the Thompson family. The award is given to an individual who has demonstrated a significant lifetime contribution to environmental protection and sustainability in British Columbia through the law.
 
Dr. Andrew Thompson was one of the pioneers in environmental and resource law and one of BC’s foremost environmental lawyers. In acknowledgement that Dr. Thompson’s work bridged the fields of environmental and Aboriginal law and of his contributions to advancing justice for First Nations, the 2014 award recognized individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fields of environmental and Aboriginal law or to the revitalization, recognition and/or enforcement of Indigenous environmental law.
 
This publication highlights the 2014 award finalists.
Publication Date: 
November 2014
Publisher: 
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Year: 
2014
Pages: 
2

Submission on Managing Wildlife to 2001 - A Discussion Paper

Subject(s): 
Endangered Species, Wildlife
Author(s): 
Sandborn, Calvin
Summary: 

British Columbia has one of the most varied and magnificent wildlife populations in North America. Seventy per cent of all native Canadian fauna breed in British Columbia. Although provinces like Ontario and Quebec are larger than British Columbia, B.C. contains more diversity of species than either of those provinces. [(1) -- 1. . Fred L. Bunnell and Laurie Kremsater, "Sustaining Wildlife in Managed Forests", The Northwest Environmental Journal Volume 6, No. 2 Fall/Winter 1990, pp. 245-6.] B.C. has the greatest number of bird and animal species in any Canadian jurisdiction and the greatest number unique to a province. [(2) -- 2. . Bunnell, Fred L. and Williams, R., "Subspecies and Diversity -- The Spice of Life or the Prophet of Doom" in Threatened and Endangered Species and Habitats in B.C. and the Yukon, Richard Stace-Smith, L. Johns, and P. Joslin, eds. (Victoria: B.C. Ministry of Environment, 1980), p.257. B.C. contains 288 breeding bird species and 117 mammal species. There are 25 more breeding bird species and 36 more mammal species than in any other jurisdiction in Canada. When subspecies are included, there are 392 breeding bird and 286 mammal species in B.C., 101 birds and 156 mammals more than any other province.] B.C. also has the richest flora in Canada, with over 7,000 species of plants native to the province. British Columbia's varied wildlife population enriches the lives of people who live here, and is a key reason why many tourists chose to visit our province. Eighty-seven per cent of British Columbians believe that maintaining this wildlife is an important goal. [(3) -- 3. . British Columbia Wildlife Branch, Managing Wildlife to 2001: A Discussion Paper, (Victoria: B.C. Environment, 1991), p. 1. ]

However, in the coming decades British Columbia's population will grow dramatically, as will industry and development in the province. We have seen what dramatic population and development growth has done to wildlife populations in other parts of the world. We have seen how the grizzly bear, which used to roam the breadth of North America, has retreated to small pockets of hospitable habitat in B.C., Yellowstone Park and Alaska. We have seen the wolf extirpated from 95% of its habitat in the contiguous states of the U.S. [(4) -- 4. . Fred L. Bunnell and Laurie Kremsater, "Sustaining Wildlife in Managed Forests", The Northwest Environmental Journal Volume 6, No. 2 Fall/Winter 1990, p.257.] We have seen virtually all U.S. wilderness areas outside Alaska lose at least some of their carnivore species. [(5) -- 5. . Bunnell, in "Sustaining Wildlife in Managed Forests" op. cit., p. 261.] In the Pacific Northwest we are observing the disappearance of species that have large home range requirements. [(6) -- 6. . Bunnell, in "Sustaining Wildlife in Managed Forests" op. cit., p. 261.] We have seen duck populations across North America decline alarmingly due to loss of wetland habitat. [(7) -- 7. . North American Waterfowl Management Plan, A New Beginning (Ottawa: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service, December 29, 1989), p. 1. ] Around the world over the next 25 years, it is estimated that loss of wildlife habitat will be a major factor in the destruction of more species on the earth than the entire process of evolution has destroyed over the past 3.5 billion years. [(8) -- 8. . Versteeg, Hajo, "The Protection of Endangered Species: A Canadian Perspective" Ecology Law Quarterly 11:3, 1984, pp. 267-269. ]

However, we need not look outside of British Columbia to see the impact of habitat destruction on wildlife. In the Fraser River Delta the snowshoe hare, the roosevelt elk, the cougar, the wolf, the yellow-billed cuckoo, the purple marten, the western bluebird, the horned lark, and the burrowing owl have all been completely extirpated in the last 100 years, to a large extent because of loss of habitat. [(9) -- 9. . Butler, Robert W. and Campbell, R. Wayne, The Birds of the Fraser River Delta: Populations, Ecology and International Significance, Environment Canada. Canadian Wildlife Service. Occasional Paper No. 65, 1987, p. 18. ] At least six native B.C. plant species have already been extirpated from the province. [(10) -- 10. . Sandborn, Calvin, ed. "Endangered Species and Biological Diversity" in Law Reform for Sustainable Development in British Columbia (Vancouver: Sustainable Development Committee. Canadian Bar Association. British Columbia Branch, 1990) p. 61. ] If we are to learn lessons from what has happened to wildlife in other parts of the world, and in B.C., we will have to do a better job of protecting our present wildlife -- and just as important, wildlife habitat.

Publication Date: 
October 1991
Year: 
1991
Pages: 
16
Date Catalogued: 
Monday, October 28, 1991

Species at Risk - Comments on the Proposed National Approach to Endangered Species Conservation

Author(s): 
Nowlan, Linda
Summary: 

WCELA AND THE B.C. ENDANGERED SPECIES COALITION

West Coast Environmental Law Association acts as counsel to the B.C. Endangered Species Coalition, an umbrella group of environmental and naturalist organizations in B.C. who seek to improve the legal protection for endangered and vulnerable species in the province. A list of the member groups of the Coalition is attached to this submission.

The Coalition has four broad goals for improving legal protection for endangered species. These goals refer to a proposed provincial Endangered Species Act.

1. The Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks must have the power to grant protection to wild, native, endangered, threatened or vulnerable species.1

The current provincial statute dealing with endangered and threatened species allows only non-fish, vertebrate species to be designated as "endangered" or "threatened". Plants, invertebrates and fish are not included in existing endangered or threatened species protection.

2. The new endangered species law should automatically protect the habitat of endangered or threatened species.

Destruction of habitat is probably the chief threat to most endangered or threatened species, and once a species has been designated, its habitat should receive automatic protection. The current B.C. law does not permit this to occur.

3. Statutory reform should be implemented to ensure that all biologically endangered, threatened and vulnerable species receive designation through the advice of an Endangered Species Scientific Advisory Board. This Advisory Board would make public recommendations regarding the designation of species and of specific protected habitat zones, and also regarding legislative reform, policy reform, and other actions that the government can take to protect endangered, threatened and vulnerable species.

All species that are truly endangered, threatened or vulnerable should be properly protected by law. Under the present B.C. Wildlife Act, the decision to designate a species as endangered or threatened is the absolute and confidential discretion of Cabinet. One way to encourage the government to make endangered species decisions based on the actual biological vulnerability of a species is to establish an Endangered Species Scientific Advisory Board. All decisions should be made public and subject to public scrutiny and debate.

4. The provincial government should:

  1. devote sufficient resources both financial and human to endangered species recovery, protection of fish, wildlife and their habitats, and conservation of biological diversity;
  2. be bound, by law, to ensure that actions it authorizes, funds or carries out do not jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered, threatened or vulnerable species; and
  3. conduct a comprehensive review of its legislation and policy to determine ways in which biological diversity can be promoted.

2. THE PROPOSAL

The federal government has released a discussion document outlining a proposed national approach to endangered species conservation at a national level. The document, A National Approach to Endangered Species Conservation in Canada, (the "National Approach") was prepared by a Committee of federal, provincial and territorial wildlife officials. It has been presented for public comment and consultation. The comments that follow have been prepared in response to the discussion document.

3. ORGANIZATION OF COMMENTS

This paper has been divided into sections commenting on the National Approach and providing other suggestions for addressing endangered species issues. The paper begins with a statement of support for the work of the Canadian Endangered Species Coalition. This is followed by a discussion of a critical problem: the proposed legislation gives too much discretion to each jurisdiction. The issues of species loss in B.C. and deficiencies with the current B.C. Wildlife Act are then presented and are followed by a discussion of the listing process, response actions, habitat management, the need for a strong federal role, legislation and other ways to improve endangered species conservation in Canada.

Publication Date: 
May 1995
Year: 
1995
Pages: 
11
Date Catalogued: 
Wednesday, May 10, 1995

Protecting Endangered Species in Canada - Comments on Bill C-65 - The Canada Endangered Species Protection Act

Subject(s): 
Endangered Species, Wildlife
Author(s): 
Nowlan, Linda
Summary: 

West Coast Environmental Law Association.

WCELA is a non-profit society that provides legal services for the protection of the environment. (See West Coast's Web site at http://vcn.bc.ca/wcel) Since its formation in 1974, WCELA has been extensively involved in the development and implementation of environmental law at both the provincial and federal levels in Canada.

West Coast has a long history of involvement with endangered species protection and legislation. In recent years, West Coast lawyers have worked with federal Members of Parliament and provincial Members of the Legislative Assembly to prepare draft new endangered species laws at the federal and provincial levels. The author is a member of the Steering Committees of both the B.C. Endangered Species Coalition and the Canadian Coalition for Biodiversity. She also was the environmental non-governmental organization representative on the Canadian delegation to the 3rd Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, held in November 1996. Recent publications include "Biodiversity Protection Law and Policy in British Columbia" in Biodiversity Law in Canada (Canadian Institute of Environmental Law and Policy: Toronto, 1996) and Protecting Wetlands in B.C. - A Citizens' Guide, Linda Nowlan and Bill Jeffries, (WCELRF and BC WETNET: Vancouver,1996).

Legal protection for Endangered Species in B.C.

Why are we so concerned about this issue in British Columbia? Our province's rich biological heritage is under threat.

B.C. is the most biologically diverse province in Canada, in terms of the number of species.2About three-quarters of the total number of bird species in Canada make their home or breed in BC.3B.C. also has the richest plant life of any Canadian province, with 2,850 vascular plants out of the Canadian total of 4,150.4B.C. is home to myriad species of seaweeds and other marine plants, marine invertebrates, fish species and marine mammals making the province's coastal waters one of the most biologically diverse marine environments in the world.5But the number of endangered species in BC continues to rise. There are 68 species of vertebrate animals and 224 vascular plant species that are threatened and endangered in the province. Another 451 species are classified as vulnerable.6

Although we have made advances in environmental protection in recent years with the passage of new laws federally (such as the pulp pollution regulations, CEPA, CEAA, and the Canada Oceans Act) and provincially (such as the pulp pollution regulations, BCEAA, product stewardship and contaminated sites regulations, and the Forest Practices Code),a major gap in environmental legal protection still exists for species at risk in the province.

The B.C. Wildlife Act is very weak and has been used to designate only four species as endangered since 1980: the burrowing owl, white pelican, sea otter and the Vancouver Island marmot. The law has been used only once to protect the critical habitat of an endangered species, for the Vancouver Island marmot.

West Coast Environmental Law Association welcomes the Canada Endangered Species Protection Act as a positive new legal tool which has the potential to increase the protection available for endangered species in our province. We also applaud the BC government, the federal government and the other provincial governments for pledging in the National Accord for the Protection of Species At Risk to ensure that complementary federal and provincial legislation and programs provide effective protection of species at risk. But we are concerned that the present draft of the Bill will not effectively protect even those species in B.C. for which the federal government has clear and exclusive jurisdiction. Our comments are designed to strengthen the current bill's powers to protect endangered species in B.C.

Publication Date: 
January 1997
Year: 
1997
Pages: 
16
Date Catalogued: 
Wednesday, January 22, 1997

Background Paper - BC Endangered Species Protection Workshop

Subject(s): 
Endangered Species, Wildlife
Author(s): 
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Summary: 

The BC Endangered Species Protection Workshop is hosted jointly by West Coast Environmental Law Association and the BC Endangered Species Coalition. The aim of the workshop is to explore the adequacy of existing legislative and policy tools to protect species at risk in BC, and to identify the need for new and improved tools, including legislation, to protect species at risk in the province. The workshop is designed to be open and interactive in approach, with representation from government, industry, unions, community and environmental groups, First Nations and professional associations. Admission to the workshop is free.

A series of different panels will address topics such as: existing legislative and policy framework for protection of species at risk (see box below); process for listing species at risk; habitat protection; protection of trans-boundary species and recovery plans. Half the time in each session will be allocated to panel presentations, and the other half will be open for facilitated questions and discussions from the floor. The final session of the workshop will provide more time for open discussion of the need for a multi-stakeholder process to improve tools for protection of species at risk.

A Discussion Paper will be prepared after the workshop and will be sent to all registered workshop attendees. A copy of the Discussion Paper will also be placed on West Coast Environmental Law Association's home page - http://vcn.bc.ca/wcel.

Publication Date: 
June 1997
Year: 
1997
Pages: 
37
Date Catalogued: 
Tuesday, June 24, 1997

The Streamside Protection Regulation and Opportunities for Citizen Advocacy

Subject(s): 
Water, Rivers, Streams, Fish, Protection,
Author(s): 
Grant, Kathy
Summary: 

In January 2001, the provincial government passed the Streamside Protection Regulation pursuant to section 12 of the Fish Protection Act. It requires local governments to protect streamside protection and enhancement areas (SPEAs) through zoning bylaws, official community plans, development permit areas and other land use planning and regulatory tools by January 2006. The Streamside Protection Regulation is in year one of a five year implementation period. Many of the on-the-ground details of how the regulation will work are being currently developed. In fact, the provincial government is set to release a draft Implementation Guide for Local Governments sometime in October 2001. Stream stewardship advocates can anticipate (and participate to a degree) in mapping and documenting streamside conditions, determining SPEAs for streams threatened by residential, commercial and industrial development, incorporating SPEAs into law, and monitoring and enforcing compliance with SPEAs. Watchdogging and commenting on local government decisions, and expressing support for the regulation to the provincial government are two key ways that citizens can help to implement the SPR.

Publication Date: 
September 2001
Publisher: 
West Coast Environmental Law
Year: 
2001
Pages: 
42
City: 
Vancouver BC
Date Catalogued: 
Saturday, September 1, 2001

Riparian Protection and Compensation - Fish Protection Act

Subject(s): 
Fish Protection Act, Riparian, Setbacks, FPA,
Author(s): 
Nolan, Linda
Summary: 

A streamside protection regulation is being developed under Section 12 of the Fish Protection Act (FPA), which will require local governments to protect streamside areas according to management objectives such as mandatory setbacks. It is anticipated that the streamside policy directives could call for a range of approaches from requiring development free areas (where riparian areas are intact or have a high potential for restoration) to vegetation, soil and impervious surface management approaches (in areas where riparian areas have been altered by existing subdivision and development). Some members of the public have called upon the government to compensate them if the regulation results in restrictions on the use of their land.

Publication Date: 
January 1999
Publisher: 
West Coast Environmental Law
Year: 
1999
Pages: 
13
City: 
Vancouver, BC
Date Catalogued: 
Tuesday, January 12, 1999

Protecting British Columbia's Wetlands - A Citizen's Guide

Subject(s): 
Wetlands, British Columbia
Author(s): 
Jeffries, Bill; Nowlan, Linda
Summary: 

Note: This publication was originally published as both a booklet and a web based HTML document.  This .pdf version does not have the pictures/diagrams that were in the original documents.  As a result, the formatting of this .pdf may be marginally affected.  If you would like to view the original document, please click here to send us an email request.

This book is ‘tool-kit’ to use to protect wetlands in British Columbia. It includes background information on the formation and function of wetlands. It also includes a review of legislation, and information on how to use existing laws to protect wetlands in the province.

The ‘tools’ are described so that they can be put to use by the average citizen who has no background in wetland science or law. This guide has been prepared for environmental and conservation groups, elected officials at any level of government, and our municipal staff, who so often have the fate of our wet-lands in their hands.
 

Publication Date: 
May 1996
Publisher: 
West Coast Environmental Law
Year: 
1996
Pages: 
127
City: 
Vancouver, BC
Date Catalogued: 
Wednesday, May 15, 1996
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