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Environmental Law Alert Blog

Through our Environmental Law Alert blog, West Coast alerts you to environmental law problems and developments affecting British Columbians. It is the public voice of our Environmental Law Alert unit which is a legal “watchdog” for BC’s environment.

If you have an environmental story that we should hear about, please e-mail Andrew Gage. Also, please feel free to comment on any of the posts to this blog – but please keep in mind our policies on comments.

18 September, 2014

Northern Gateway’s President, John Carruthers, now accepts that the start date for the Enbridge Pipeline and Tankers Project – which Enbridge had expected in 2018 – is “fast evaporating”, due to the need to meet with First Nations. That’s a remarkable admission, coming from someone whose project depends upon maintaining the charade that this project is alive and well, and not dead at all. Many of us were reminded of Monty Python’s famous dead parrot sketch.

17 September, 2014

We’ve written before about the apparent and unacceptable influence of the oil and gas industry on Canada’s environmental laws, which may have extended to a suggestion that the Canadian government roll multiple amendments into omnibus budget bills (as it did in 2012). Two documents obtained recently under freedom of information legislation demonstrate that industry, and in particular the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), is still at work trying to weaken our environmental laws.


2 September, 2014

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has proposed aquaculture regulations that risk making an already untenable situation surrounding net-cage aquaculture worse. 

Click here to go directly to West Coast Environmental Law's submission to DFO on the proposed Regulations.

21 August, 2014

It’s been a busy few months with a lot of new challenges and developments regarding the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines and tankers proposals. We thought we’d take a step back to give an update on some of the major legal developments. It’s worth flagging that, on top of all these developments regarding the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan projects, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its game-changing ruling in the Tsilhqot’in case on June 26, which will have major implications in the months and years to come including, as we’ve noted, for pipelines and tankers proposals.

20 August, 2014

One of West Coast Environmental Law’s services is to operate the Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF). The EDRF is funded by the Law Foundation of BC, and is a granting program for citizens and communities who need to access legal help to solve an environmental dispute. We are pleased to bring you an update on some of the cases we have been funding over the past few months.

20 August, 2014

This year marked the Third Annual Salish Sea Summer Gathering in Whey-ah Wichen/Cates Park in North Vancouver, hosted by the Tsleil Waututh Nation Sacred Trust. West Coast Environmental Law was pleased to be a part of the day and be a sponsor of this event. Held on August 10th, the gathering featured Juno-winning musical acts, a poetry stage, a traditional canoe panel, and a great lineup of speakers including Rex Weiler, Chiefs affected by the Mt. Polley mine tailings pond spill, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, and West Coast Environmental Law Staff Lawyer Eugene Kung.

13 August, 2014

The West Coast Environmental Law summer law student volunteers want to thank our amazing mentors at West Coast Environmental Law for the wonderful educational experiences they provided this summer. We have laughed and learned with the West Coast staff and, to wrap up our work term, would like to share the highlights of our summer with West Coast’s readership.

13 August, 2014

This post was originally posted on

‘Streamlining environmental regulatory review’ and ‘reducing the regulatory burden on industry’ are among the hottest buzzwords from the federal and BC provincial governments. 

As the Mt. Polley Mine tailings lake breach that occurred on Monday, August 4 demonstrates, however, deregulation of industrial activities that impact the environment is a gamble that can have devastating outcomes for local communities and the environment.

18 July, 2014

In a wave of legal filings on July 11 and July 14, 2014, eight First Nations from Haida Gwaii to Yinka Dene territory west of Prince George set in motion legal proceedings that, combined with 9 court cases filed earlier this year, have the potential to stop or significantly delay the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines and tankers project (the “Enbridge Project”).

9 July, 2014

June 28, 2014 marked the 5th and final Tar Sands Healing Walk, a grassroots event organized by local Indigenous communities in the heart of the tar sands development. This was not a protest or a march, nor was it about disrupting the work of the energy companies; it was about the people and their land and maintaining the ecological and spiritual connection to it. As Cleo Reece of Fort McMurray First Nation explained, “this walk is not just for the people, it is also for the eagles, and the bears, and the water.” Seeing the tar sands for myself has certainly motivated me to do so. The most basic step, as Cleo Reece suggested, is to “start walking on [our] own land.”