1 Highlights from the EDRF - April 2012 | West Coast Environmental Law

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Highlights from the EDRF - April 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It’s been a few months since we reported on grants from our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF).

For those not familiar with the EDRF, it’s 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. 

We’re proud of all the community groups and individuals that we fund, but here’s a few of the highlights from the past 5 months:

  • Office of the Wet’suwet’en – We’ve given a series of grants to the Wet’suwet’en to assist in their challenge of proposed logging in the Territory of the Ginehklaiyex, one of the houses of the Wet’suwet’en.  The Ginehklaiyex, represented by Peter Grant and Associates, won an injunction against logging in one of the last unlogged areas in their territory by Canadian Forest Products in the BC Supreme Court last May.  Canadian Forest Products has recently been granted leave to appeal on narrow grounds, and our most recent grants have gone towards helping the Ginehklaiyex with the cost of fighting this appeal. 
  • Kamloops Area Preservation Association – The controversial Ajax Mine, which would be located within the physical boundaries of Kamloops, is currently undergoing an environmental assessment.  Grants to the Kamloops Area Preservation Association have allowed the group to hire Jay Nelson to assist the residents of Kamloops in navigating the environmental assessment process, to ensure that the environmental and public health issues associated with this mine are fully considered. 
  • Residents and Ratepayers of Central Saanich – The Residents and Ratepayers of Central Saanich have challenged the Vantreight development, an urban development on rural lands in Central Saanich.  After losing in the BC Court of Appeal, our grant will allow the Residents and Ratepayers, represented by Underhill Boies Parker, to seek permission to appeal their case to the Supreme Court of Canada. 
  • Peace Valley Environmental Association – It is crucial that the controversial Site C dam receive a thorough and transparent environmental assessment – allowing the residents of the Peace River region to have their voices heard.  So, with the federal government cutting back on participant funding for environmental assessments, the Peace Valley Environmental Association has asked West Coast to provide some supplemental funding, and we have agreed. 
  • Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA) – When one of the most colourful of the opponents to fish farms, Don Staniford, was sued by Norwegian aquaculture, Mainstream Canada, West Coast gave a generous grant to his defence (run by noted defamation lawyer, David F. Sutherland).  We feel that this case has the potential to help clarify the extent and limits of free speech under Canadian law. 
  • Halalt First Nation – We’ve written previously about the Halalt First Nation’s court case that blocked the operation of deep wells intended to access the Chemainus Aquifer.  The Province of BC has appealed the BC Supreme Court decision, and the BC Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear the case in late May.  We continue to support the Halalt, represented by William J. Andrews, in fighting the appeal.


Those are just a few of the cases we’ve funded in the past several months.  To browse many of our other grants, check out the map of our EDRF recipients.

By Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer