More than 50 law students put their heads together earlier this month to help unearth BC’s mining legislative history. Dubbed, Mining Law in BC – Digging up a Dirty History, the event’s gleanings will help inform mining law reform efforts. The impetus for the topic was the ELC’s three-year partnership project on mining law reform with Mining Watch Canada and the Fair Mining Collaborative.
It wasn’t only students who participated in the event. Faculty, staff and local legal professionals dropped in to assist students during the day-long research marathon. Lunchtime panel members, Glenn Grande, Drew Mildon, Andrew Gage, and Deborah Curran, provided some context about the need for mining law reform in BC.
“The experience was like walking into a war room, packed with the palpable energy of common purpose, immense warmth and hospitality, and the acumen of great minds working at the forges of change,” says Glenn Grande of Fair Mining Canada. “It was one of those definitive moments you can point to with fondness when someone asks: When did we finally break the seals on the musty old mothballed tomes of British Columbia mining laws?”
Victoria lawyer Drew Mildon says, “There was a stunning turn out for this event. Clearly, UVic Law students appreciate the tremendous environmental risks mining poses here in BC and the need for fundamental changes in how it is regulated and controlled. Congratulations to the organizers and all the enthusiastic volunteers!”
Students at UBC and TRU pitched in with their own satellite events, engaging in related research questions that will add to the final report. The event was modelled after the 2017 research-a-thon organized by McGill law students to assist the Canadian Council for Refugees.
Law librarians and ELC Clinic staff provided support for the student-led event, giving research guidance and assisting with resources. The Law Library even created a resource website.
ELC Club Executive member Conner Wear says, “This research-a-thon was a great opportunity to learn and apply new skills to an area of law I feel very passionate about. It’s one of the reasons I came here, and I’m glad UVic hasn’t disappointed.”
The research will result in a timeline mapping the evolution of laws governing mining in BC and environmentally significant mining events in BC. Tracking the history of prospecting and exploration laws and environmentally significant mining events in BC will help determine whether legislators have been responsive to issues as they arise in mining and to what extent, and at what pace, mining regulations have evolved in the province since the gold rush.
“It was one of those definitive moments you can point to with fondness when someone asks: When did we finally break the seals on the musty old mothballed tomes of British Columbia mining laws?”
In a blog post about the event written for SLAW, ELC Club President Andhra Azevedo says, “I’m hopeful that the Environmental Law Club can put on another event like this next year to harness law students’ energy and abilities in order to create more effective and equitable environmental laws.”