News Archive old

News Archive

ELC Executive Director Makes Submission on a Cosmetic Pesticide Ban to Legislative Committee

November 8, 2011

Chris Tollefson, ELC Executive Director and Hakai Chair in Environmental Law and Sustainability, spoke to the Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides about the legal context for cosmetic pesticide law reform, addressed the precautionary principle and the need to take regulatory precaution seriously, and the ELC’s February 2010 written submissions and model bill. “We should have a regime that allows for local governments to set the bar higher or establish different requirements, as long as there is not a direct conflict with the provincial law,” he submitted. Read the full Hansard transcript here.


Environmental Laws: A Field Guide for BC’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii

May 25, 2011

In collaboration with the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network, a project of the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative, the ELC has developed a tool to help First Nations better protect the environment in their territories. This field guide summarizes techniques that First Nations Guardian Watchmen (environmental monitors) can use to investigate environmental offences and the major environmental offences that apply on Haida Gwaii and the North/Central coast More…

Enhancing Environmental Oversight by BC Tribunals

March 16, 2011

While most BC tribunals are mindful of the public interest in environmental decision making, a new report by the ELC shows there is considerable room for improvement in tribunal mandates and their use of dispute resolution tools. More…
New $2.75 million to expand ELC Operations

Feb 22, 2011

Thanks to $2.75 million in new funding from the Tula Foundation, the ELC is poised to expand its program and consolidate its vision of inspiring and training the next generation of Canada’s public interest environmental lawyers by giving them the opportunity to advocate for the environment as a core part of their law school experience. More…

Problems with BC Mining Regulations

February 10, 2011 (updated June 8, 2011)

On February 9 an event was held at UVic Law about the social and environmental impacts of coal mining in BC. To see ELC student Maya Stano’s presentation “Undermining the Value of Clean Air and Water” and learn how taxpayers are financially vulnerable for costly cleanups of coal mining operations, click here for the PPTX version or here for the PDF version. MAY 2011 UPDATE: Maya finalized her research on the inadequacy of mine securities required by government and government capability to actually enforce its environmental laws. Click here to read the report.

Call to Investigate Health and Safety Risks Posed by Natural Gas Wells

February 8, 2011

A growing number of residents in northeast British Columbia are so concerned about the health risks associated with the region’s natural gas industry and an sour gas wells they asked provincial Health Minister Colin Hansen in a letter sent today to appoint a formal inquiry under Public Health Act. The letter was written on behalf of Peace Environment and Safety Trustees Society (PEST) by ELC alumnus Tim Thielmann of Devlin Gailus and ELC Legal Director Calvin Sandborn with assistance from ELC students. Read the media release. Read the letter, appendices, and letters of support. MEDIA: Read articles in the Vancouver Sun (Stephen Hume and Ben Parfitt) and Globe and Mail (Mark Hume).

Calvin Wins Andrew Thompson Award

February 3, 2011

The ELC is thrilled to congratulate our Legal Director Calvin Sandborn on winning the 2011 Andrew Thompson Award and for wowing the crowd with an inspiring speech that was as gracious as it was passionate. It makes for a great start to the Renewing Environmental Law Conference. By popular demand, here is Calvin’s acceptance speech!

Sandborn Receives Honourary Citizen Award

January 19, 2011

We are pleased to congratulate ELC Legal Director on receiving the Honourary Citizen Award from the City of Victoria. Click here to read the Media Advisory.

Examining Tanker Spill Liability on the Coast

January 13, 2011

In this report prepared for Living Oceans Society, ELC student Matt Boulton examines the potential financial liability Canadian taxpayers could face if there were a catastrophic oil tanker spill in the coastal waters of British Columbia’s north coast. Click here to read the report. (*note new version posted Jan 17 to correct small typo) Click here to read Living Ocean Society’s media release.

Protecting Orca from Boat Traffic

December 22, 2010

ELC student Rose Keates has prepared a report for Lifeforce Foundation on protecting Orca from boat traffic. Click here to read the report, which provides 17 recommendations. Read the Vancouver Sun op-ed by Rose and ELC Legal Director Calvin Sandborn. Listen to Calvin counter a whale watching company on this CKNW podcast. (18MB)

Examining How Fish Slip Through BC Regulatory Cracks

December 17, 2010

Do you know how many fish sports fisherman are taking from BC waters? Neither does the government, according to the ELC report “Why is BC’s Fish Resource Slipping through Cracks in the Regulatory System?” Written for a First Nations client by ELC Clinic student Laura Sworn, the report recommends that government track the catch of BC sports fishers. More…

Renewing Environmental Law: A National Conference Feb 2011

December 1, 2010

This two-day environmental law conference intended for litigators, law reformers and policy experts from across Canada will be held in Vancouver on Feb 3-4, 2011. Co-hosted by the ELC, West Coast Environmental Law and Ecojustice, conference topics include environmental rights, Aboriginal rights and environmental protection, climate change and the need for law reform, access to justice, environmental tribunals and a Judges Forum: View from the Bench. More…

Water Polling Results

November 22, 2010

According to a recent poll conducted by McAllister Opinion Research for WWF Canada, British Columbians appreciate their water and they want to protect it. A full 98 percent of British Columbians recognized fresh water as being critical to their well-being and 91 percent considered fresh water to be BC’s most precious resource. The poll was conducted to assess public support for the current water act modernization process in BC. The ELC is working on submissions to the process. Read the results.

CRD Biosphere Reserve Event Nov 23, 2010

November 17, 2010

The ELC, Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt Society and The Dogwood Initiative invite CRD residents to come November 23 to this informative night to hear about about a historic proposal to designate the CRD as a UN Biosphere Reserve. More…

Report Calls for Overhaul of “Weak” EA Process

November 10, 2010

Environmental assessment is essential to environmental protection and fundamental to a sustainable economy, according to a new report released today by the Environmental Law Centre (ELC), which is calling for major changes to BC’s Environmental Assessment Act. More…

Proposed Comox Coal Mine Needs Full Public Hearings

August 17, 2010

You don’t need a canary to convince CoalWatch Comox Valley that mid-Vancouver Island doesn’t need another coal mine, particularly the Raven Underground Coal project planned for their region. The group called on the provincial and federal governments Monday to conduct the environmental assessments of the project with a Joint Review Panel process. (click for PDF version of MEDIA RELEASE, BACKGROUNDER, SUBMISSION package, Sept 2.10 letter requesting public comments be posted and the public comment period extended) More…

Re-inventing Rainwater Management – Update

July 28, 2010

Stressing the need to clean our beaches and work with natural water cycles, ELC clinic student Paddy O’Reilly asked the Capital Regional District (CRD) today to implement fundamental changes to how we deal with stormwater in the region. More…


2011-2012 Articled Students Positions

June 30, 2010

Thank you to everyone who applied for the the ELC shared articles positions, commencing September 2011 and February 2012. The positions have been filled. For more information on our shared articling program, check out our shared articles flyer.

Conserving the Planet – Without Hurting Low-Income Families

May 17, 2010

Increasing household energy efficiency reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Energy-efficiency programs are now widespread, but they are often designed in a way that excludes low-income households. More…

Cosmetic Pesticides Ban gains momentum

May 14, 2010

Former ELC Clinic student Jonathan Aiyudaurai continues to perform volunteer work on his ELC project more than a year after completing the course. Read Jonathan’s comments along with an update on what’s happening with the proposed cosmetic pesticides ban for BC.

Review Success Leads to Release of Documents

March 16, 2010

Lower mainland citizens living around Burrard Inlet may soon hear a lot more about their brewing sewage problems. With assistance from ELC student Keyvan Monsef, Ecojustice recently obtained two orders from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner directing the release of important documents from a private prosecution they launched that was subsequently stayed by the Attorney General of Canada. More…

Major Victory for Southern Vancouver Island’s Wild Coast

Mar 8, 2010

In response to local government’s March 5 announcement to purchase lands in the Jordan River, Sooke Potholes and Weeks Lake areas, the ELC is grateful to have played a part in one of its most important victories ever. Partnering with The Land Conservancy, the CRD has reached an agreement in principle to purchase 2,350 hectares of land from Western Forest Products for $18.8 million. The lands will be protected for recreation, conservation and watershed protection for generations to come and include over 3.5km of shoreline from the world-famous surfing beach at Jordan River to Sandcut Beach. More…

Re-inventing Rainwater Management

February 24, 2010

A new ELC report aims to solve the problems caused by stormwater in the Capital Region. Acting for the Veins of Life Watershed Society, the comprehensive report, Re-inventing Rainwater Management: Protecting Health and Restoring Nature in the Capital Region, documents the vast damage stormwater causes and then lays out a strategy for solving the problem. More… READ THE REPORT See the video

ELC Student makes Legislative Submission on FOI

February 3, 2010

ELC student Morgan Blakley presented a submission on behalf of the Dogwood Initiative today to the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Read the submission here. More…

ELC Club releases annual newsletter

April 1, 2010

To read the latest ELC Club newsletter, click here.

Cosmetic Pesticide Legislation

February 11, 2010

The ELC encourages British Columbians to learn about the provincial government’s plans to ban the sale and use of cosmetic chemical pesticides through legislation. Click here to read the ELC’s model response, which follows the questions posed by the Ministry of Environment and is intended to help concerned citizens and groups draft their own submissions. To read the ELC’s response, please click here. For more information about this issue, see the Canadian Cancer Society’s website.

Thanks to UVic Law students, faculty and staff

January 2010

Many thanks for the great turnout we’ve had at our “blue sky” visioning sessions. We will amalgamate the feedback into our final report. (For more information about this session, please read our Strategic Review & Renewal Process Backgrounder.) We look forward to future sessions with the UVic community in the near future.

ELC Seeks comments on BC Tribunals Discussion Paper

November 24, 2009

Thanks to all who provided feedback on the Environmental Tribunals Discussion Paper. The final paper will be released in late spring. For more information about the project, click here. Read the paper.

Comments on Juan de Fuca Land Use Bylaws

November 18, 2009

Lawyer and ELC Program Director Deborah Curran provided comments to the Capital Regional District regarding the most recent iteration of the Juan de Fuca draft OCP and land use bylaw. To read her comments, click here. Read the paper.

ELC Articled Student at SCC

October 20, 2009

Victoria, BC – ELC Articled Student Micah Carmody had the opportunity to travel to Ottawa to watch the portion of a factum that he helped to prepare argued before the Supreme Court of Canada. More…
Submission Asks CRD to Focus on Sustainable Community Development

September 29, 2009

Victoria, BC – In a 13-page submission, ELC Program Director, Deborah Curran, and ELC Articled Student Micah Carmody have made five specific recommendations regarding the Capital Regional District’s (CRD’s) proposed bylaws to establish zoning and land use policies for the 132,000 hectares of Rural Resource Lands in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. More…
Protecting the Integrity of Victoria’s Inner Harbour

September 21, 2009

Victoria, BC – Victoria Harbour’s mega-yacht marina project needs better public input and an independent environmental assessment process according to legal submissions prepared with the assistance of the ELC and delivered today to the Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice. More…
ELC Urges North Cowichan Council to Protect Echo Heights Forest

August 2009

Chemainus, BC – ELC student Kyra Bell-Pasht presents her report “Protecting Echo Heights Forest” to the District of North Cowichan Council on Wednesday, August 19, 2009. Prepared on behalf of the Chemainus Residents Association, the report examines Council’s legal duties when making planning decisions and documents the long history of community use of the lands commonly known as Echo Heights Forest. More…
Action Needed to Deal with Abandoned Vessels

July 2009

Victoria, BC – The recent torching of a tugboat in Sooke Harbour highlights the need for law reform in order to deal with the growing number of abandoned vessels that clutter waters around BC, posing serious safety and environmental risks. More…
Examining BC’s Environmental Tribunals and Assessments

April 2009

Victoria, BC – Thanks to funding from the Law Foundation of British Columbia, the ELC is pleased to be conducting two legal research projects that will be carried out over a two-year period under the direction of Mark Haddock, with assistance from ELC staff and clinic students. More on the Assessment Project. More on the Tribunals Project.
Urgent Call to Protect Public Health

March 5, 2009

Victoria, BC – Acting on behalf of a coalition of public health and environmental groups, the ELC has recommended urgent law reform to avoid the potential for mini-Walkerton disasters across BC. More…
Seeking Public Hearings for TFL Subdivision Application

January 2009

With the assistance of the ELC, the Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt Society’s lawyer filed submissions encouraging the provincial approval officer to hold public hearings before approving subdivision applications regarding lands near Jordan River that were removed from regulated Tree Farm Licences without notifying the public, local government or First Nations. More…
Preserving Closed School Lands as Public Green Spaces

January 2009

School yards provide valuable public green space and critical nodes for community greenways systems, but they do not have the same protection of parks. Although the land is public, school districts have the right to sell it. A new ELC report explains how public school lands can be preserved for their green space values. More…
ELC Requests Auditor General Investigation into BC’s Refusal to Protect Endangered Species Habitat

November 26, 2008

Acting on behalf of the Wilderness Committee, the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) has asked the BC Auditor General to investigate the provincial government’s failure to identify and protect the critical habitat of endangered species as required by the Species at Risk Act. More…
Auditor General Slams BC Government for Lack of Public Consultation on TFL Land Deletions

July 16, 2008

BC’s Auditor General John Doyle released a report today criticizing the provincial government for its January 2007 decision to remove over 28,000 hectares of private lands from three Vancouver Island Tree Farm Licences held by Western Forest Products. More…
Making the Case for a Carbon Tax in Canada

November 17, 2008

ELC Legal Director Calvin Sandborn and ELC Articled Student Tim Theilmann argue that a carbox tax has both environmental and financial benefits to Canadians. Click here to read their opinion piece published in the Times Colonist newspaper.
BC’s New Climate Change Legislation—what it means for local governments

November 2008

In the spring 2008 legislative session, the provincial government enacted new legislation enabling local governments to address climate change and energy efficiency measures. This summary outlines the provisions in the two relevant bills that relate to local governments and climate change. Correction – please note the revisions to this summary – Bill 44 (2007) that requires public sector organizations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions does not currently apply to local governments. Click here to read the Summary.
ELC Helps Clean Cowichan River Diesel Spill

October 2008

A recent diesel spill near the Cowichan River highlights what is wrong with current regulation of pollution spills. The Cowichan is one of BC’s two designated Heritage Rivers and is Vancouver Island’s most important fishing river. In February 2008, diesel began to leak out of a service station’s underground diesel tank. Government discovered the source of the leak in a few days, but left it up to the service station owner to fix the problem. Cleanup was delayed for six months, resulting in catastrophic pollution damage to the neighbour’s home property—and ongoing pollution of Oliver Creek and the Cowichan River. More…
Protecting Endangered Species on Private Property

October 2008

The Salt Spring Island Conservancy recently asked ELC student Colin Edstrom to research ways to protect the endangered Sharp-tailed Snake on Salt Spring Island.  Colin has now produced a report that may help other groups faced with the challenge of protecting endangered species that range across numerous small adjacent private lots. More…
Corporate Knights recognize ELC’s Intensive Program

July 2008

UVic Law jumped from sixth to second this year in the Corporate Knights Best 50 Issue. The magazine notes the ELC’s intensive program as being one of the reasons for the law school’s improved score. Read the report. The entire report can be found here: .
Water Water Everywhere?

June 2008

Water is undeniably a precious resource—and there’s no bottomless well. A new report prepared by ELC lawyer Deborah Curran and POLIS Project on Ecological Governance water expert Oliver Brandes makes the case for the urgent need for water and aquatic ecosystem protection in BC. More…
Pender Island Residents Give Thumbs Up to Hitching a Ride

May 27, 2008

A recent ELC report may help residents of North and South Pender Island create a new way to get from A to B. With a population of 2,400 that triples in the summer, Pender Island is experiencing increased traffic demands and congestion on its limited road system, which concerns many residents. More…
ELC Congratulates 2008 Smart Growth Award Winner Deborah Curran

May 2008

Hearty congratulations to ELC Project Director Deborah Curran on her recent Smarty Award from Smart Growth BC! More…
ELC Work Leads to Reform of Government Freedom of Information Policies

January 22, 2008

It should be easier for environmentalists to get records from the Ministry of Environment, thanks to the efforts of ELC students Scott Giesbrecht, Jamie Thornback and Melinda Skeels.  Their work helped trigger a wholesale reform of how the Ministry of Environment deals with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. More…
Examining Due Diligence Defence in Forest Practices Laws

December 2007

In early December, the Forest Practices Board issued an important report about the adequacy of government enforcement of forest practices laws.  Made in response to an ELC submission made on behalf of Sierra Club, the Board’s report recommends that government change the way that it investigates forest practices contraventions, in cases where companies claim the “due diligence” defense. More…
Green Bylaws Toolkit Launch

November 28, 2007

The Environmental Law Clinic is pleased to announce that Ducks Unlimited and the Wetlands Stewardship Partnership have just released the Green Bylaws Toolkit, a comprehensive resource that will help local governments protect threatened ecosystems. More…
Auditor General Agrees to Review TFL Decisions

November 20, 2007
BC’s Auditor General responded Monday to Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt Society’s request for an audit by announcing he will review the provincial government’s decision to remove over 28,000 hectares of private lands from three Vancouver Island Tree Farm Licences held by Western Forest Products. The lands include large portions of the wild coast currently accessible to residents of southern Vancouver Island. More…
Assisting First Nations with Opposition to Mine Expansion in Northern BC

November 2007

The ELC is pleased to be involved with the efforts to protect a 6-km long pristine, fish-bearing lake in northern BC. Duncan Lake, known as Amazay Lake to local First Nations, is at risk of being destroyed and turned into a tailings pond for a proposed open-pit copper-gold mine. More…
ELC Requests Auditor General Investigation

October 24, 2007

Triggered by mounting public concern over the future of land use on southern Vancouver Island, the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) has requested, on behalf of Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt Society, that BC’s Auditor General investigate a government decision to release large amounts of land from Crown control without compensation. More…
ELC Anniversary – 10 Years and Still Climbing

October 2007

From it’s start as a student-run volunteer group, the ELC has grown into a full-service law clinic that is proud to be training Canada’s next generation of public interest environmental lawyers. ELC friends, students and alumni gathered on October 13, 2007, to celebrate 10 years of success. Thank you to all who attended. We will post photos of the event soon!
TILMA and the Environment

September 2007

Municipalities developing climate change action plans may face an uphill battle under the new BC-Alberta Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), despite provincial government assurances that “there is nothing in TILMA that would prevent either province from implementing a climate change action plan.” More…
Protecting BC’s Endangered Species

August 2007

The ELC does legal work for a coalition of eight of BC’s leading conservation groups, calling for a stronger Wildlife Act.  More…
Targeting Food and Agricultural Policy Reform

July 2007

Two new memos recently released by Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) student Kendra Milne may prove to be useful tools for groups wishing to advocate for more positive policies. More…
2008 Articles with the ELC

June 22, 2007

We are pleased to announce that our two articled students for 2008 are Rachel Forbes and Tim Thielmann. Thanks to the Tula Foundation for providing this opportuntity for law students interested in public interest environmental law.
Victory for the Haida Nation and the ELC

June 2007

The Council of the Haida Nation (”Haida Nation”] and the ELC recently succeeded in a case opposing logging in the Deena watershed on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).  More…
Legal Education for Cyclists

May 2007

Victoria’s first Cyclist’s Collision Checklist pamphlet is hot off the presses — just in time for Bike to Work Week. More…

ELC Helps Solar Power Initiative

January 22, 2007

Although solar panels reduce energy costs, their substantial initial cost has stopped many home owners from upgrading to this environmentally friendly energy source.  The ELC has helped take a first step towards getting over this financial hurdle. More…
Congratulations to ELC Legal Director Calvin Sandborn

November 30, 2006

Congratulations to ELC Legal Director Calvin Sandborn in making it to the final round for the Dr. Andrew Thompson Award, sponsored by West Coast Environmental Law. We thank Calvin for his long-term work on environmental issues and for his dedication to the Environmental Law Centre Clinic.
Creating a Law to Fight Global Warming

November 2006

On November 22, 2006, the ELC presented “The Global Warming Solutions Act,” draft legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The draft legislation has been prepared for ELC client Conservation Voters of BC. More…
First Nations Coastal Management Workshop

November 2006

In partnership with the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group and the Sencot’en Alliance, with support from the Law Foundation and BC Studies, the Environmental Law Centre gathered representatives from over a dozen coastal First Nations along with industry, conservation and community groups for an intensive one-day workshop in November on the future of First Nations coastal resources management in light of the New Relationship. More…
Enhancing First Nations Participation in Shellfish Aquaculture

October 19, 2006

Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) student Adam Driedzic and Executive Director Chris Tollefson attend Victoria’s Legislative Building to make submissions to the Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture. More…
First Nations and National Parks

September 2006

A new report released by Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) student Carly Chunick provides First Nations with information that may help them participate in the planning and management of National Parks. More…
ELC Requests ALR Public Inquiry

August 2006

The Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) requested today that the provincial government appoint a Commission of Inquiry to investigate whether the recently restructured Agricultural Land Commission is adequately protecting British Columbia’s farm land. More…
ELC Assists Campaign to Stop Echo Heights Development

August 2006

The University of Victoria Environmental Law Clinic is providing legal assistance to the Chemainus Residents Association (CRA) in its bid to stop the Municipality of North Cowichan from selling and developing “Echo Heights,” a municipally owned 52-acre forest that local residents have long used as informal parkland. More…
ELC Asks the Ministry of Environment to Investigate Missing Contaminated Waste in Nanaimo

July 2006

In a request prepared by Windsor School of Law student Eileen Blackmore and ELC staff, the ELC requested that the Minister of Environment investigate a large amount of missing contaminated waste in Nanaimo. Eileen, who also has a background in geophysics, worked as a summer volunteer with the ELC. Click here to read the 6-page letter to the Ministry of Environment. Read Media Release
ELC Student Urges Vancouver Parks Board to Protect Dolphins

June 2006

ELC student Riley Goldstone addressed the Vancouver Parks Board this month, urging them to strengthen their bylaws to avoid indirectly supporting the Japanese dolphin drive. Read more…
ELC Intervenes in the Supreme Court of Canada

April 2006

In what many are predicting will become one of its leading decisions on access to justice in public interest litigation, the Supreme Court of Canada recently granted intervener status to the ELC. Click here to read the full article.

ELC Aids Local Residents Concerned About Backyard Transmission Lines

The Environmental Law Centre recently finished a project for Tsawwassen Residents Against Higher Voltage Overhead Lines (TRAHVOL), a citizens group opposed to the upgrading of high voltage electric lines through their backyards. Read more…
ELC collaboration develops a strategy for protecting the Skagit River Valley – Progress Report

March 10, 2006

The Environmental Law Clinic has collaborated with the Kathy and Steve Berman Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Washington to develop a strategy for protecting natural and conservation values in the international Skagit River Valley. Read more…
Complete Report – updated
Skagit Photos

Click for larger version (pdf)
ELC Students at the Supreme Court of Canada

For the second year in a row, a UVic ELC student has gone directly from being president of the ELC Society to the coveted position of Clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Last year, Jeanette Ettel, ELC president 2004-05, was named to clerk with Justice Le Bel at the Supreme Court of Canada. This year, current ELC co-president Jen Bond was appointed to clerk Justice Bastarache at the SCC.

The ELC clearly is attracting some of the best and brightest law students in the country, which is good news for Canada’s environment.
ELC Working to Protect BC’s Farmland
February 10, 2006

On February 7, the ELC sponsored a forum regarding the current dismantling of the Agricultural Land Reserve. Approximately 150 people, representing numerous organizations, attended the forum. Speakers included former Premier Dave Barrett, who created the ALR legislation in 1973, and Agrologist Dave Sands of the ALR Protection and Enhancement Committee. Sands recently retired from a career in the provincial government, where he worked on ALR issues for many years. He is now volunteering his time to oppose the dismantling of the Reserve.
ELC Wins Case!
On December 14, 2005 The Office of the Information and Privacy Commission ruled in favour of the Shawnigan Lake Watershed Watch Association (SLWWA). The Commission Adjudicator ordered Government to drop the fees that Government had previously demanded before it would produce requested documents. The documents related to the sale of Crown lands for residential development around Shawnigan Lake — development that could threaten the quality of drinking water drawn from the Lake. Read more…
ELC requests Public Inquiry into Freedom of Information Policies
Victoria, BC. July, 2005

The ELC has asked B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner to conduct a Public Inquiry into whether government discriminates against environmental groups that request government documents under the province’s Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation. ELC student Scott Giesbrecht made the request on June 23, 2005 on behalf of Sierra Legal Defence Fund and Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

Read More…
Letter to the Commissioner (.pdf, 82kb)
ELC To Represent Sierra Club at another Forest Appeals Commission Hearing
Victoria, BC. July 11, 2005

On July 4 ELC student Elisabeth Gronnestad obtained intervenor status for the Sierra Club of Canada (BC Chapter) for an important Forest Appeals Commission hearing scheduled for September.The Sierra Club was permitted to address the issue of due diligence central to this appeal. The appellant, a forest company who received an administrative penalty for unauthorized harvesting, is invoking the defence of due diligence now available under the Forest and Range Practices Act. The Sierra Club will make submissions on the interpretation of the defence and its application to forestry matters.

Read More…
Save the Gateway to Paradise

Victoria, BC. May 10, 2005

Should this lagoon be dredged and turned into a parking lot for yachts? The ELC is working with North Saanich residents to oppose the proposed development of Tsehum Inlet.

Read the article by Calvin Sandborn and Derek Simon

ELC Students meet Robert Bateman and Chief Vern Jacks

UPDATE: ELC WIN – Council Reversal! (May 17, 2005)

Other Press Coverage: May 16, 2005 – Times Colonist, May 17, 2005 – Times Colonist
ELC volunteer receives Law Society Gold Medal

Victoria, BC. May 2005

Paula Ramsay has been awarded the Law Society Gold Medal for being the top graduating law student in 2005. Congratulations Paula!

Read More…
ELC Works for First Nations Concerned About Offshore Oil and Gas Development
Victoria, BC. May 2005

The Environmental Law Clinic has provided both legal representation and other legal services to the BC Aboriginal Fisheries Commission on the issue of Offshore Oil and Gas Development. During the Environmental Assessment hearings …more
ELC to draft and advocate model Wetlands law

Victoria, BC. June 2005

Ducks Unlimited Canada has asked the Environmental Law Clinic to draft Model Local Government Legislation to protect wetlands. In a major initiative, students Linnsie Clark, Elisabeth Gronnestad and others will collaborate with …more
A Children’s Clean Air Act for Canada?

Victoria, BC. May 2005

Will Canada take action to ensure the safety and health of our children, or will it continue as an environmental laggard? That is the question being asked by a coalition of environmentalists promoting a “Children’s Clean Air Act.” The coalition recently asked the ELC to prepare a draft Act for the coalition, and a form of the ELC’s draft legislation will likely be submitted to Federal Parliament as a Private Member’s Bill.

Read More…
Draft “Children’s Clean Air Act” (.pdf, 23kb)
Background Information (.pdf, 133kb)
At A Watershed
Victoria, BC. May 5, 2005

The ELC and the Polis Project have co-authored a landmark study of the best water conservation strategies being employed around the world. The study recommends that Canada adopt a National Water Strategy to conserve this vital resource.


Complete Report (.pdf, 1.6mb)
Executive Summary (.pdf, 534kb)
ELC student pursues test case on the new Due Diligence defence provisions in BC’s forest practices legislation
Victoria, BC. May 2005

In January, 2005 an ELC student represented the Sierra Club at the first major appeal interpreting the new defence of due diligence under the new Forest and Range Practices Act.

This issue is quite significant because until recently due diligence was not a defence to administrative penalty cases. Government recently amended the legislation to allow companies to invoke the defence. Companies are now filing appeals based on this defence, and pushing the limits of the legislation, in an attempt to obtain favourable legal rulings that will define the scope of the defence for the future.

Appearing at the Forest Appeals Commission alongside legal counsel for the Council of Forest Industries, Weyerhaeuser, Government, and the Forest Practices Board, Jeanette Ettel argued that very high standards of behaviour are required before one can use the defence of due diligence in the context of the Act. Jeanette made the policy arguments that any other approach would devolve responsibility for the protection of Crown land to subcontractors, instead of to the company which has the resources and control necessary to ensure optimal compliance with the law.

Attached see the Statement of Points submitted to the Commission.

Please note that Jeanette has now graduated, and will be serving as a Clerk to the Supreme Court of Canada in September.

Statement of Points of Sierra Club of Canada (.pdf, 28kb)
Appeal Background Article
ELC Prepares Report for Citizen’s Group on the Regulation of Power Lines
Victoria, BC. May, 2005


The ELC recently provided legal assistance to the Tsawwassen Residents Against Higher Voltage Overhead Lines (“TRAHVOL”) in their fight against high voltage transmission lines being built in their neighbourhood. The group won its fight, and the lines are not going to be constructed there.

However, the work of ELC student Nadine Wu is likely to be useful to groups facing the same issue. She produced a brief for TRAHVOL outlining the various laws and governmental policies of countries which have legislated with regard to electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure. Among the countries and international agencies which have already addressed the potential dangers to health,

Spain, Norway, Sweden, the UK, and Australia now prohibit the construction of power lines within 300 feet of homes;
In the US, state legislators and local officials in at least seven states have proposed bans on power lines in residential areas; and
The World Health Organization’s International EMF Project has advocated the need for industry and governments to take precautionary and prudent avoidance measures in the face of such potential for harm.
Canada has yet to propose legislation limiting exposure to power lines generating EMF in residential areas.

Complete Report (.pdf, 135kb)
ELC Compares BC and Norwegian Aquaculture Regulations

Victoria, BC. May, 2005

The BC Government often claims it has the most stringent regulation of salmon farms in the world. To test this claim, the Georgia Strait Alliance and the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation asked the ELC to compare BC’s legislative regime with that of Norway. ELC student Aaron Dow completed a study of the two regulatory regimes, which is attached.Read More…
Complete Report (.pdf, 168kb)
A Citizen’s Guide to FOI

Victoria, BC. May 10, 2005

Knowledge is power. This layperson’s guide to British Columbia’s Freedom of Information legislation will help you get documents and other information from provincial and local governments, educational institutions, and professional bodies.
Press Release
Citizen’s Guide (.pdf, 527kb)


ELC Student Files FOI Appeal Submissions

Victoria, BC. May, 2005 The Shawnigan Lake Watershed Watch group is challenging government’s refusal to grant them “public interest” standing for the purposes of obtaining Freedom of Information documents without charge. More…

Enhancing the Use of International Instruments in BC Aboriginal Law litigation
Victoria, BC. May, 2005

ELC student Carl Lem has compiled a comprehensive index to International treaties, instruments and norms relating to Indigenous and Environmental Law issues. The resource is now generally accessible to any law firm representing aboriginal groups, and accessible publicly on the ELC website.

It is expected that this work will elevate the general use of international law in Aboriginal-environmental cases. ELC has already received a number of comments about the usefulness of this new resource. It is hoped this will encourage the use of these instruments in Canadian courts.

Complete Index (.pdf, 339kb)