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Engage | Empower | Enrich

Vol 7, 2017 December

As 2017 rapidly wraps, the spirit of gratitude is alive and well at the ELC. We are so thankful to those who support our work – our donors, the Faculty of Law, our newly convened Cohort 6 ELC Associates, ELC Fellows, guest speakers, Board members, and alumni. We are also grateful for our wonderful students. At the beginning of December, we calculated that ELC Clinic students had provided over 3,000 hours of service in 2017. That’s 125 days – and counting – of free legal services to communities, organizations and First Nations in BC. You’ll read about some of their recent work in this issue, and we guarantee that more great projects are coming down the pipe. And we get to start all over with a new group of students in January. What a great way to end the year!  

Caribou need urgent federal protection

If government doesn’t act quickly to protect mountain caribou habitat, the species will soon be extinct. On behalf of the Valhalla Wilderness Society, the ELC petitioned the federal government in December to demand an emergency order to save BC’s 10 southern mountain caribou herds.

Chelsea Harris, the ELC Clinic student who worked on the petition, says the sharp and steady the decline in caribou populations surprised her. “I have been studying caribou since 2013,” says Chelsa. “It was unsettling to say the least, to discover that many herds have declined even further in the five years since I first researched southern mountain caribou.” Read more...

Drinking water wins with mine rejection

Back in August, the ELC filed an application for a Drinking Water Hazard Prevention Order with the Regional Drinking Water Officer, in an attempt to stop the Ajax Mine in Kamloops.  The application included advice from a hydrogeologist that the Environmental Assessment (EA) failed to take into account a number of potential sources of toxins and potential pathways for those toxins to reach existing drinking water sources in Kamloops. Read more...

QC congratulations to Calvin

With unbridled enthusiasm, ELC Legal Director Calvin Sandborn has taught over 400 Clinic students and mentored more than 20 articled students. But even before joining the ELC in 2003, Calvin was busy providing workable solutions for BC’s key environmental problems and acting in the public interest to protect people and communities. He fought for farmworkers rights, pushed government into enacting sustainability measures, and went to court in order to protect communities from pollution and species at risk from loss of habitat. (See “Calvin Fun Facts” below for more details.) Which is why it’s so delightful for us to share the announcement that Calvin has received the honourary title of Queen’s Counsel (QC). Read more...

UPDATE: BC government recently released the independent review examining the Hullcar Valley drinking water situation. They also released a response to the review, with recommendations for amending the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation to prevent impacts to aquifers and water sources. The ELC will provide further input as part of the public consultation process.
SHOUTOUT: To ELC alumna Amanda McDonald for her involvement on protecting grizzlies from hunting (see Alumni spotlight below.) We are especially pleased to celebrate this news – back in 2014, an ELC request on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation triggered BC’s Auditor General to investigate government’s management of grizzly bear populations, including the trophy hunt.
ELC LOVE IS IN THE AIR: Happy engagement to former ELC students Andie Britton-Foster and Peter Nyhauss (ELC Intensive Clinic 2015-2016). We wish them many happy years together!
APOLOGIES and CORRECTION: Apologies to baby Griffen and baby Riley for mixing up their photos in the last newsletter – you are both adorable! Please see correction below.

In proper order:
  1. Riley Cooper, born July 13, 2017 (Erin Gray 2013-14 Clinic)
  2. Griffen Huxley Idris Minnion, born July 30, 2017 (Rachel Forbes 2007-2008 Clinic)

Amanda McDonald

ELC Clinic student (Fall 2011) and ELC Director (2011-2013)

Amanda Macdonald is a Senior Legislative and Policy Analyst with the Legislation Branch of BC’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. The Legislation Branch has central responsibility for developing and delivering the ministry’s legislative and regulatory program to meet government’s strategic objectives and the ministry’s mandate for the stewardship of provincial crown land and its cultural and natural resources.

Amanda recently worked on the regulations to implement the ban of grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia. The government originally announced that it would ban trophy hunting of grizzly bears, but allow for a meat hunt. After advice from Ministry staff, and stakeholder and public consultation, the government decided to change direction to a full ban of grizzly bear hunting. 

Amanda sent us these details about a new enviro law meet-up group:

West Environmental Law Meetup (W-ELM)

Come join the newest enviro lawyers (and lawyers to be) meet up group in Victoria! This is an open invitation to law students, lawyers and new calls interested in environmental law to meet for an informal mixer and "networking" event every couple of months in Victoria/Vancouver.  If you want to join the mailing list so you're invited to future meet-ups, please email

We also have a LinkedIn group so we can all connect more easily. Through the group you can find out the dates for the next meet-ups, suggest activities for future meet-ups (bouldering? axe throwing? karaoke?), and post enviro-related events/jobs that others might also be interested in. The group is private, so please ask to join:

Our next W-ELM will be held in Victoria in January. Mailing list will get more info/check out our LinkedIn group.

Since our October newsletter:
Please join the ELC's team of supporters!
Copyright © 2017 Environmental Law Centre Society, All rights reserved.

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