1 EDRF Highlights – August 2012 | West Coast Environmental Law

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EDRF Highlights – August 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF) has helped British Columbians get legal help on environmental threats to their communities and lands for over 20 years.  So what are we funding currently?  Well, here are some highlights of the grants made over the past few months:

  • The Friends of Pioneer Forest – The Friends have hired Patrick Canning, a Tofino-based lawyer, to look at legal options to prevent Pioneer Forest, one of the last urban forests in Nanaimo, from being rezoned for residential use.  Pioneer Forest was originally given to the City as a park, but due to a complicated history, is now owned by the School District, which wants it rezoned.  Dominic Jones of the Friends says:

Losing Pioneer forest to any form of development would be a terrible loss for our community.  Without West Coast Environmental Law, the EDRF and Patrick Canning, we would not have been able to afford legal advice at this time. We are very grateful to them for the financial support and advice they have provided to us.

  • West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild - The controversial Jumbo Resort, a proposal for a new ski resort town in the East Kootenays that threatens core habitat for grizzlies and other at risk species, is getting a little extra scrutiny, thanks to an EDRF grant to the West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild.  The Coalition has hired Nelson-based lawyer Judah Harrison to assess the impact of unprecedented new rules that seem to allow for the creation of municipalities without any residents (and which are expected to pave the way for the development). 
  • The Peace Valley Environmental Association (PVEA) - It is crucial that the controversial Site C dam, a proposal with serious agricultural, ecological and socioeconomic consequences for the Peace Region, receive a thorough and transparent environmental assessment – allowing the residents of the Peace River region to have their voices heard.  A second grant allows lawyers Tim Howard and Anna Johnston to help the Peace Valley Environmental Association navigate the environmental assessment process. 
  • Neskonlith Indian Band – The Neskonlith are seeking to block the controversial Smart Centres development in Salmon Arm, (a major new shopping centre outside of the City’s core on environmentally sensitive land adjacent to the Salmon River), arguing that the City of Salmon Arm should have consulted them before giving the mall the go-ahead.  The Neskonlith lost that argument in the BC Supreme Court, but have appealed to the BC Court of Appeal.

We’ll be watching each of these groups, and their lawyers, as they work to resolve these significant environmental problems through the law.  Stay tuned.

By Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer

The Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund is unique in Canada.  Each year we get a generous grant from the Law Foundation of British Columbia to re-grant to community groups and individuals that need to hire a lawyer (or related scientific expert) – at a legal aid rate – to help with an environmental conflict.  The result is a healthier environment, empowered citizens and communities, and an active community of lawyers around the province who are able and willing to work on public interest environmental files.  Click here for more information on the history of the fund and what we’ve accomplished in more than 20 years.