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Vol 16, 2019 Dec

Heartfelt thanks to the many people who support and engage with us throughout the year! Whether you are a donor, subscriber, student, client, volunteer, or a combination of all the above: We couldn’t do it without you! Before we head into a new decade, we wanted to share three highlights from the past year. All the best to you and yours, and we’ll see you in 2020!

#1 Taking Action on Reducing Plastics Pollution
Over the past year, ELC staff and students have continued to work extensively to develop strategies to deal with plastics pollution. Our contributions have started to generate action at the political level, including a commitment this summer from the federal government to ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021. Read more...
#2 Protecting Drinking Water Province-wide
In the last year, our work in documenting the lack of enforcement of drinking water contamination led to province-wide improvements to control agricultural waste. This result means better drinking water protections for the entire province. Read more...
#3 Launching the Mining Law Reform Platform and Province-wide Network
This year, the ELC joined with project partners, organizations, and community groups throughout the province to officially launch a comprehensive mining law reform platform, which consists of nine reports that target specific mining law reform opportunities in BC.
How to Establish a Watershed Authority in BC
The ELC recently made public a report prepared for the Okanagan Basin Water Board that explores the legal basis for establishing watershed authorities with an eye to potential local entities in the future of BC water management.

Legal Basis for Enabling Watershed Authorities in BC examines three of the “best practice” case studies featured in the 2014 report. The report looks at how the watershed authorities were enabled in the three cases studies, their source of powers and funding, and legislative mechanisms that helped to lead to their establishment. The case studies are of Regional Councils in New Zealand, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in Australia, and Conservation Authorities in Ontario.

Intentionally left out of the report is how Indigenous communities in each of the case study areas interact and are involved with the watershed management entity. Due to the watershed-specific complexities of Indigenous relations in all three case study areas, the report does not address the underlying Aboriginal rights and title to water held by the Indigenous communities in each region. It is important to note, however, that the case studies do offer instructive ideas for how to create collaborative water governance structures that give substance to Aboriginal water rights, and to incorporate traditional knowledge into water management practices. The report recommends that the next step in the process of considering empowering watershed authorities in British Columbia, perhaps through a Watershed Authority Act, is to further explore how such a structure could ensure the expression of Aboriginal rights to water and collaboratively govern with Indigenous communities.

Link to report: Legal Basis for Enabling Watershed Authorities in BC
Remembering Alan Martin 
Our condolences go out to the friends and family of Alan Martin. As a frequent guest speaker at the ELC Clinic, and as the client contact for BC Wildlife Federation, we were fortunate to receive the benefit of Al’s many years of experience in fisheries, forest, wildlife management and habitat conservation as well as his ability to provide strategic solutions and his great sense of humour. He will be missed by many.
Link to obituary
It was a big environmental win for the Skagit Valley when the Premier recently announced the cancellation of logging in the “Donut Hole” area between Manning Park and Skagit Valley Park.  A client who arranged for the ELC to prepare a legal opinion for the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission (SEEC) tells us that ELC work played a key role in achieving the recent victory. Our memo focused on how logging the Donut Hole would violate BC’s international obligations under the High Ross Treaty, a treaty between the US and Canada, and that the Mayor of Seattle could arbitrarily take BC to arbitration over the violation. The SEEC presented the memo to BC’s Ministers of Environment and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. They also provided it to the City of Seattle, and their Legal Department validated the argument. The Mayor reportedly presented the argument to the Premier of BC. 
A recent Vancouver Sun article features extensive coverage for the ELC’s reports, submissions and litigation on the issue of access to wilderness. This issue is likely to keep coming up as we often hear from people who want to protect the right to access public lands.
Want to share your news with ELC alumni and friends? Send us the details, and we’ll include them in our next newsletter.

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