1 Grants help BC communities take on everything from fracking to mining | West Coast Environmental Law

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Grants help BC communities take on everything from fracking to mining

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

EDRF Highlights

Our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF) helps British Columbians get legal help to protect their local environment, communities and lands. Here are some highlights of the grants we’ve made over the past few months:

  • The Fort Nelson First Nation in northeast BC has received a grant to help fund an appeal of the granting of a water license by the Ministry of  Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to industry giant Nexen for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the North Tsea Lake area. The water license allows Nexen to withdraw up to 2.5 million cubic meters of water from North Tsea Lake annually for five years to extract natural gas, threatening ecosystem damage and the First Nation’s traditional grounds for habitation and fishing. The Environmental Appeal Board, in a precedent setting decision, has already ruled that the First Nation is entitled to bring the appeal under the Water Act, a major win in the Fort Nelson First Nation’s efforts to oppose fracking in their Territory.
  • Responding to their concern over the potential re-opening of the Fandora Gold Mine in a culturally significant area within the Tranquil Watershed (located in Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island), the EDRF has provided two grants to the Tla-o-qui-aht Council to obtain legal support in their efforts to dissuade the Ministry of Energy and Mines from approving Imperial Metals’ Notice of Work application. Click here for a press release on the issue.
  • The Friends and Residents of the North Fork, a citizens’ group based in Grand Forks, has received two grants to dissuade the Ministry of Energy and Mines from approving a proposed bulk granite sampling project near Lynch Creek in the Granby River Watershed.  The area is one of the last remaining migratory corridors for grizzly bears, and home to several red and blue listed species. In addition, the Friends are concerned because there is documented evidence of elevated uranium levels in the area.
  • The EDRF has provided ongoing support to the Halalt First Nation in their challenge to the District of North Cowichan’s proposal to drill two wells and extract water from an aquifer within their traditional territory, reducing water levels of the Chemainus River. The case began in the BC Supreme Court, where the Halalt won. The decision was appealed in the BC Court of Appeal and last November; the court set aside the BC Supreme Court decision. The Halalt are currently seeking leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • A new and dynamic group named Farmwatch BC has formed over the issue of protecting farmland in Richmond. Farmwatch BC has received two grants related to concerns regarding the deposit of construction waste on a farm. With legal help, the group aims to persuade the Agricultural Land Commission to reconsider their approval of proposals to build a road with construction waste.
  • Funding from the EDRF has enabled the Heiltsuk First Nation in Bella Bella to take an active role in the Joint Review Panel hearings that are evaluating the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines and Tanker Project. With the help of their legal team, the Heiltsuk were able to prepare written submissions in the final arguments phase of the hearings, which are closing this month.

Thanks to the Law Foundation of British Columbia for providing funding for the EDRF.

By Barb Everdene, EDRF Project Manager