|A roundup of important new legislation, regulations, government announcements and court cases that we covered in the Environmental Compliance Insider in 2012.
LAW OF THE YEAR
In May, the government proposed amendments to the Contaminated Sites Remediation Act that would strengthen the investigation and management of such sites. Highlights:
CASE OF THE YEAR
Cutting Down Trees to Build a Road Isn’t Logging, Rules Court
The government issued licences allowing a company to build a road through a park. To do so, the company must cut down some trees. An environmental group claimed that the licences violated the ban on logging in provincial parks. The court explained that the ban applied to the giving of “commercial timber cutting rights.” In this case, authorizing construction of the road—and thus the cutting down of some trees as necessary—wasn’t the same as giving the company timber cutting rights for the park. So the licences didn’t violate the ban on logging in provincial parks, concluded the court [Western Canada Wilderness Committee v. Government of Manitoba,  MBQB 54 (CanLII), Feb. 15, 2012].
OTHER NOTABLE CASES
Old Timber Policy Violated Aboriginal Rights but Present Policy Doesn’t
A man was charged with harvesting 145 cubic metres of white spruce without a permit as required by the Forest Act. He argued that, as a member of the Western Manitoba Métis community, he wasn’t bound by that law, which violated his rights. The court concluded that when the man harvested the trees in Dec. 2009, the policy adopted by Manitoba Conservation didn’t give priority rights to the Métis. But the policy it adopted in January 2010 does reasonably accommodates Métis harvesting rights. The court also found that the man ignored the existing regulatory scheme and tried to collaterally attack the law. So it adjourned the case to determine the appropriate remedies, including what to do with the timber [R v. Beer,  MBPC 82 (CanLII), Dec. 13, 2011].
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