Annual Report 2012/2013

  • July 16, 2013

Submitted by Section Co-Chair, Robert Lesperance

Summary of Meetings

Number of Meetings Held: 2

October 11, 2012
Guest Speakers: Tony Crossman, Partner at Miller Thomson LLP, Todd Gerhart, Prosecutor at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and Andrew Gage, Counsel at West Coast Environmental Law
Synopsis: A presentation on the recent amendments to the Federal Fisheries Act and a discussion on the consequences of these changes.

November 20, 2012
Guest Speakers: Brenda E. Gaertner, Timothy P. Leadem, QC, Mitchell R. Taylor, QC, and Boris W. Tyzuk, QC
Synopsis: Aboriginal Law-Vancouver Section and Environmental Law Section joint meeting. Guest speakers presented "Where Have All the Salmon Gone? The Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River (“Cohen Commission”)."

Reports and Resolutions

The CBA Environmental Law Section prepared a letter dated December 5, 2012, which was sent to the Civil Policy and Legislation Office of the BC Government. The letter expressed our concerns about how section 36 of the new Limitation Act would amend section 47 of the Environmental Management Act. The amendment purported to eliminate the ability of a responsible person to assert a limitation defence under the Limitations Act in a contaminated site cost recovery claim under the EMA. The Minister of Justice considered our letter and agreed with our position. The Limitation Act was not amended at the time because of the looming election, so the Cabinet had instead enacted an Order in Council that amended BC Reg 290/2012 so that section 36 of the Limitation Act would not come into force on June 1, 2013. As a result, the ability to assert a limitation period was not affected.

Comments and Observations of the Chair

The highlight for the Environmental Law Section last year was the success the Section achieved in having the BC Ministry of Justice recommend an Order in Council suspending the implementation of an amendment to the Environmental Management Act that would have eliminated limitation periods for remediation costs recovery actions. We understand from Stuart Rennie that this is a first for the CBABC branch. The suspension of this limitation provision will enable the Environmental Law Section to advocate for balance between plaintiffs and defendants in this area of environmental law. This will be beneficial for litigants and the profession and brings credit on CBABC branch.