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Vol 21, 2020 Dec

This is the first in a series of stories we’ll share over the coming year in honour of the ELC’s approaching 25th anniversary. We’ll take this time to reflect on milestones and appreciate work done in the past that is making a difference today. These stories demonstrate what we all inherently know: actions we take today reverberate long into the future.
Ayum Creek Regional Park
Thanks to the actions of HAT members (shown above in 1998, including ELC Legal Director Calvin Sandborn front row, far right), today Ayum Creek is a protected regional park reserve that supports wetlands, riparian habitats and a spawning stream for wild coho and chum salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. (Photo provided by Calvin Sandborn)
Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) staff and volunteers organized a successful fundraising drive in the 1990s to purchase the Ayum Creek land at Sooke Basin. ELC Legal Director Calvin Sandborn was a founding director of HAT and worked on the Ayum Creek campaign.
“This was an important parcel of land because it provided critical fish habitat and formed the final link in the continuous Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt that stretches from Saanich Inlet to Sooke Basin,” says Calvin.

Now part of a Capital Regional District park reserve, Ayum Creek flows through mixed forest and riparian habitat. Even in December, there is plenty of evidence scattered about to show how fish feed the forest (and, apparently, local bears.)

The ELC has worked on protecting the Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt as far back as 1996 when we provided information on watershed planning and municipal law issues.
Ayum Creek in Dec 2020
Click on a staff member below to watch our quick and candid video 2020 highlight messages! (L-R: Top row: Deborah Curran, Calvin Sandborn, Bottom row: Holly Pattison, Megan Webber)
Helping to improve deteriorating water quality and other ecological conditions at Elk/Beaver Lake that pose danger to the health of humans, animals, and the environment is the aim of the ELC submission Recommendations for Optimal Implementation of the Elk/Beaver Lake Watershed Management Plan, which was prepared for the Veins of Life Watershed Society (VOLWS). Read more...
A recent ELC submission prepared for Be the Change Earth Alliance shows that introducing a mandatory program to reduce commuting trips could eliminate an estimated 5% of BC’s GHG emissions. Commute Trip Reduction Initiatives: Implementing Efficiencies in Transportation for a Green Future shows how this may be a step to helping the Province of BC meet its 2030 GHG reduction goals. It may also improve health and save money. Read more...
Numerous factors threaten the flow and quality of water in the Coquitlam River: urban development and diking, population growth, the effects of climate change, and a hydroelectric dam flow management regime that has had a negative impact on fish. As populations in the area increase, so will the demand for drinking water; and drought conditions caused by climate change will likely exacerbate environmental flow issues.
Fortunately, there are a number of actions that local, provincial and First Nations governments can take to help increase flows in the Lower Coquitlam River.
This report prepared for the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable and Watershed Watch Salmon Society provides a series of recommendations for municipal, regional and the provincial governments to follow to support the health of the Lower Coquitlam River Watershed.
Gord Warrenchuk has a life-long love of solving puzzles and creating things. As a kid, he even built forts out of dead Christmas trees. Today he builds database management systems for non-profits – and he does it for free.
At the ELC, we call Gord our database guru with good reason. Starting in 2012, he delivered us from complex and confusing spreadsheets and developed customized software that we use almost every day. He is a core member of the ELC team. Read more...
The ELC joins Canada's legal community and so many others in grieving the loss of Joe Arvay OC QC. As a guest speaker in the ELC Clinic class just a few weeks ago, Joe spoke to students about the environmental movement, the lawyer-client relationship, and the lawyer's role in environmental campaigns. Calvin introduced him as "legendary," and it's clear to see in this article and other profiles and tributes, that was no exaggeration. Joe will be deeply missed at the ELC, and we extend our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.
WE'RE HIRING! The next few years will bring transition to the ELC Clinic as Legal Director Calvin Sandborn moves into a special projects and mentorship role. This brings a unique opportunity to bring a new person or people onto our team to work full time on a diverse scope of public interest environmental law issues. Could this be you? Watch for our announcement in the New Year!
HAPPY (ALMOST) 25TH ANNIVERSARY TO US: While we don’t know everything 2021 will bring, we do know that the ELC is turning 25! We’ll be celebrating throughout the year with virtual and (hopefully) in person events. We are an enthusiastic but small crew, so we could use some helpful organizers (maybe a few alumni or former Board members who expressed at our 20th celebrations in helping out with future events?) If you are interested, please let us know!
UPDATE ON PLASTICS: In late November, the ELC provided feedback to the federal government on the discussion paper they released following the October announcement to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.
Over the past few years, The ELC has played a key role in bringing the regulation of plastic pollution to the centre of public debate and our contributions have generated action by both the federal and provincial governments.
UPDATE ON FREEDOM OF INFORMATION PROCESSES: BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner concluded their investigation into whether public bodies are meeting their legislated duty to make records available without the need for an access to information request. In their report, Section 71: Categories of records available without a request, the Commissioner found there were uneven and inconsistent approaches towards compliance, different interpretations of the section and acknowledgment from some public bodies that they were not in compliance.
We will continue to watchdog this issue through documenting citizen complaints about provincial failures to post environmental information on their websites.
THE BACKSTORY: Building on our previous work, the ELC asked BC Information Commissioner to examine systemic issues within government regarding the proactive release of public documents. In 2012, the ELC had recommended proactive release of public documents to the Information Commissioner who accepted that recommendation and broadened the interpretation of s. 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to oblige government to proactively release documents whenever their release is “in the public interest.” Upon learning this changed was not routinely happening in practice, we launched the request for an investigation in 2017.
UPDATE ON COASTAL PROTECTION: In Oct 2019, we told you about the event ELC staff and students attended to help West Coast Environmental Law and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society raise awareness with MLAs about the need for a Coastal Protection Strategy. In November, the new provincial government’s mandate letters to five ministries gave high priority to a coastal strategy. The letters commit to developing “a new provincial coastal strategy to better protect coastal habitat while growing coastal economies.”
UPDATE ON MINING LAW REFORM: ICYMI, the BC Mining Law Reform Network has a new video likening the polluter pay rules, which 90% of British Columbians support, to the leave-it-better-than-you-found-it rules for campsites.
Last year, the ELC joined with organizations throughout the province to launch the BC Mining Law Reform platform, which is intended to guide mining law reform in BC for the next decade. For a concise information on what changes are necessary and why, see the BC Mining Law Network’s Fact Sheet.
GREEN BYLAWS RESOURCE: In October, the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership engaged ELC Executive Director Deborah Curran and ELC alum Erin Gray to provide a deep dive into Development Permit Areas for Protection of the Natural Environment (EDPAs). With local government councillors and staff, consultants, and community members participating, the workshop explored the strengths and weaknesses of this site-specific regulation with a focus on its potential for promoting connectivity and the protection of ecologically sensitive areas across a local jurisdictions.
UPDATE ON INDIGENOUS GUARDIANS WORK: Since sharing news in our last newsletter about the case we prepared with First Nations Fisheries and Energy Council to support Indigenous Guardian Networks, Canada launched the first Indigenous-led Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary in BC.
THANK YOU to ELC Associates and presenters Deborah Curran and Val Napoleon for their participation our most recent webinar looking at Tools for Accessing Indigenous Laws.
CONGRATS to Alum Ryan Solcz (ELC Clinic Fall 2014) for launching his small business podcast Jurble Law Pod with Ryan and Christian.
CONGRATS to our colleague Merrell-Ann Phare on the launch of her podcast Porcupine that explores reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians.
CONGRATS to our colleagues and ELC alumni who worked on the lawsuit against Canadian mining company Nevsun, which has settled the lawsuit against it for slavery and other human rights abuses in Eritrea. The lawsuit was brought in Canadian courts for company activities in Eritrea. ( map)
SHOUT OUT to Alum Adam Campbell (ELC Clinic Spring 2010) for his work on men’s mental health. Adam joined with three other men to share their stories and experiences in the hopes of breaking the stigmas around men’s mental health in the Global News series: Strong but not Silent Series (Adam’s story).
CONGRATS to Alum Michaelin Scott (ELC Board 2007-2009 and ELC Coop Student Spring 2008) and her partner Faiz, who had baby Sophia last May.
CONGRATS to Alum Katie Duke (ELC Clinic Spring 2013, ELC Board 2012-2014) and her partner Craig, who had baby Maya in August.
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