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Environmental Issues

Ontario reveals the details about its performance standards for large industrial emitters

cap trade auction

On February 12th 2019, Ontario announced its proposed plan to reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, the Industrial Emissions Performance Standards Program.

 

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Redwater – SCC delivers the final word

On February 1, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) released its highly anticipated decision in the Orphan Well Association, et al. v. Grant Thornton Limited, et al, 2019 SCC 5 (Redwater).

 

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Ontario’s environment plan: Preserving and protecting our environment for future generations

On November 29, 2018, the Ontario government released its Environment Plan: Preserving and Protecting our Environment for Future Generations.

 

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Back to square one? Ontario government winds down cap and trade program and overhauls approach to climate change

On July 25, 2018, the newly formed Ontario Government introduced Bill 4, the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018 (the “new Act”), which repeals the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016 (the “old Act”) and provides for the wind-down of the province’s cap and trade program[1]. The new Act also sets out a renewed approach to climate change policy.

 

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Uncertain ground: Owners may be liable for unforeseeable environmental effects

In Huang v. Fraser Hillary’s Limited, 2018 ONCA 527, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently ruled that foreseeability of harm is not an element of the tort of nuisance in the context of historical environmental contamination of a neighbouring property by a dry-cleaning business.

 

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Plastic bag bans

Communities such as the City of Victoria recently enacted a bylaw prohibiting businesses from providing single-use plastic bags to customers and otherwise charging a fee for paper and reusable bags.

 

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Target 2030 and beyond: BC government unveils legislation to update greenhouse gas reduction targets

The British Columbia government has emphasized its intention to “remove barriers, and make it attractive and affordable for people, communities and industry to move to lower-carbon alternatives” while at the same time “grow[ing] an economy that’s stronger, cleaner, more diverse and more resilient.”

 

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B.C. considers benefit corporations

British Columbia may become the first province in Canada to pass legislation that provides for the creation of “benefit corporations.” Benefit corporations are different from the typical for-profit business corporation in that they must be mandated to conduct business for the purpose of creating a general public benefit. It will be interesting to see where the benefit company model will go in B.C. The benefit company is somewhat similar to the existing B.C. C3, which is a hybrid corporate structure featuring both for-profit and a non-profit components.

 

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Bill-68: Significant Amendments to the Fisheries Act

The proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence would provide enhanced enforcement powers under the Fisheries Act, and proposes an alternative to traditional prosecutions in the event of non-compliance. The federal government may offer some persons charged with offences under the Fisheries Act to enter into “Alternative Measures Agreements” in lieu of prosecution.

 

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Bill C-69 represents an overhaul of the Federal environmental assessment process

Bill C-69 and the expanded scope of federal review represents a significant change to the federal environmental process in Canada, both in terms of procedural matters and in terms of the substance of the assessments.

 

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Charities can now help businesses in the aftermath of disasters

aftermath of disasters

In August 2017, the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) updated its Guidance CG-014 on community economic development (“CED”) activities and charitable registration. There were a number of updates to the Guidance, but the most significant was the inclusion of the statement that charities are now able to support, on a more long-term basis, the efforts of businesses that are helping to rebuild communities affected by disaster.

 

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Review of the environmental assessment processes

The Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change was tasked with reviewing the environmental assessment processes set out in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. To this end, an expert panel was set up to conduct consultations that led to a report setting out the Panel’s recommendations being submitted to the Minister. The report, entitled Building Common Ground: A New Vision for Impact Assessment in Canada, was published on April 5, 2017. Comments may be submitted on the report until May 5, 2017. Legislative and regulatory amendments could then be tabled in late 2017 or early 2018.

 

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Ontario’s first Cap and Trade Auction results

cap trade auction

Ontario held its first Cap and Trade Program Auction of Greenhouse Gas Allowances on March 22, 2017. The auction drew 47 qualified bidders. Of the total number, approximately half are members of the energy industry.

 

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Section 99 of the Environmental Protection Act: Ontario Courts continue to clarify its scope and power

In Huang v Fraser Hillary’s Limited, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice confirmed that plaintiffs can rely on section 99 of the Environmental Protection Act—a section enacted in 1985—to claim damages for spills which occurred before section 99 was enacted. The Court’s discussion in this case provides helpful guidance on the possible reach and limitations of the so-called “spill action” legislation.

 

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