When news came down about BC Supreme Court Justice Robert Sewell’s decision to stay the permit that allowed a company to dump contaminated soil above the Shawnigan Lake watershed, the ELC was thrilled. It was exciting win for the Shawnigan Residents Associations, as well as for the ELC students who helped with the judicial review.
It was an incredible learning experience in terms of gaining insight into the pace and structure of litigation. We feel very fortunate to have participated in the final stages of this long legal battle to protect a community watershed. The Shawnigan Residents Association were inspiring in their commitment and mobilization efforts, that led to the Environment Minister cancelling the waste discharge permit. (ELC students Andie Britton-Foster and Peter Nyhuus)
Two of the students who worked on this file were able to attend the hearing where they saw how counsel incorporated their research into legal arguments.
The ELC was a great help in our representation of the Shawnigan Residents Association. Early on at the EAB stage in 2014, we received valuable research from student Sarah Anning that helped us frame the appeal. Then in the injunction and judicial review hearings in January and February of 2016, we had a host of legal issues to address and many more arose during the hearings. ELC students Peter Nyhuus and Andie Britton-Foster jumped into the fray and worked long hours to provide us with answers to research questions that we threw at them. In our submissions, we referenced many of the cases they were able to locate, some of which were relied on in the judgment of Justice Sewell. We really appreciated their dedication and enthusiasm. A big thank you to the ELC! (Sean Hern, counsel for Shawnigan Residents Association)
In addition to providing our students with a great practical experience in active litigation, this file also brought to light another issue the ELC has flagged as a concern: the model of professional reliance. In this case, there were questions about the relationship between the professional and the company, but the ELC provided a number of examples of problems with the system (along with recommendations for improving it) in our 2015 report Professional Reliance and Environmental Regulation in British Columbia.
- Shawnigan Lake residents win a round in quarry battle (2017 Jan 24) Times Colonist
- BC Environment Minister cancels waste discharge permit at Shawnigan Lake (2017 Feb 23) CTV News
- BC cancels Cobble Hill waste-discharge permit near Shawnigan Lake (2017 Feb 23) Globe and Mail
- Does the turmoil over a contaminated soil dump near Shawnigan Lake point to problems with B.C. environmental assessments? (2017 Jan 30) CBC News Radio interview with Calvin Sandborn
- Shawnigan decision reveals policy flaws: critic (2017 Jan 30) Times Colonist
- Another Wild West Show? BC’s Regulatory Experiment with Professional Reliance (2017 Feb 21) TheTyee.ca