The Environmental Law Centre (ELC) is an externally funded, non-profit society that operates Canada’s largest public interest environmental law clinic in partnership with the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law. The ELC has two primary objectives:
- To provide legal capacity to community organizations, First Nations and individuals to improve environmental health; and
- To train the next generation of public interest environmental lawyers.
Our Vision Statement
The ELC envisions a British Columbia where local communities, environmental groups, and First Nations have the legal tools and resources to advocate effectively for the restoration, conservation, and protection of this province’s unique and diverse environment.
The ELC aims to foster the health of British Columbia’s environment by working to:
- Inspire and educate students by providing hands-on advocacy experience and direct exposure to the challenges and rewards of public interest environmental law;
- Engage and collaborate with local communities, environmental groups, and First Nations through the provision of timely legal information and effective pro bono legal representation;
- Advocate for reforms to environmental laws through thoughtful, scientifically sound, and pragmatic legislative proposals;
- Strengthen access to justice by producing high-quality legal research, and through participation in administrative and court proceedings.
The ELC provides free legal research and representation to community groups, environmental organizations and First Nations in BC and offers clinical training in public interest environmental law to students through the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law.
Our work has five focus areas:
- Healthy Watersheds;
- Sustainable Communities;
- Resilient Coast;
- Climate and Energy Equity; and
- Environmental Justice.
Thanks to the vision and dedication of many students, faculty, community members and foundations, the ELC Society has provided pro bono legal services to a wide range of community groups, conservation organizations and First Nations across the province and beyond since 1996.
The original goals of the ELC were to engage in community outreach and provide legal research to environmental groups and the public. To support these goals, students created a Committee to oversee office operations, raise and administer funds and ensure that projects complied with a set of principles.
In 1996, the ELC became both a credit course (the Clinic) and an incorporated society. The ELC ran for years solely on the steam of student volunteers and a diverse, experienced Board of Directors. Seed funding from the Law Foundation of BC, the Bullitt Foundation, Tides Canada Foundation, Ted McWhinney and others responded allowed the clinic to hire a legal director and administrator. This growth in the clinic attracted funding from the Tula Foundation, which supported ELC core operations for 10 years. Today, the ELC’s core operations are supported through private donors and several foundations, including the Law Foundation of BC, North Growth Foundation, Sitka Foundation and Oasis Foundation.
From community research projects to legal representation, growing through its network of volunteers, students and individuals from the legal and environmental community, the ELC shows no signs of slowing down.
Thanks to our donors and the UVic’s Faculty of Law for continuing to help us in providing communities with the legal assistance they could not otherwise obtain, and in training the next generation of public interest environmental lawyers in BC.