In 1996, two environmental lawyers visited the Belle Park landfill with well-known local environmentalist, Janet Fletcher. Doug Chapman of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund (and former prosecutor with the Ministry of Environment) and Mark Mattson (Chapman’s former law partner and now Lake Ontario Waterkeeper) photographed liquids seeping from the old landfill, sampled the discharge to prove it killed fish, and prepared a brief with expert opinion that the Belle Park landfill was violating the Fisheries Act.
Last week, the Court of Appeal for Ontario upheld Fisheries Act convictions against the City of Kingston. The ruling is an important achievement for a unique coalition of government, local residents, and NGOs. It also reinforces the integrity of the Fisheries Act, ensuring it continues to be Canada’s most powerful piece of environmental legislation.
Meanwhile, the Belle Park case has created a powerful model by which ordinary citizens can protect local communities across Canada.
Belle Park breakthroughs:
- Citizens and government investigators conduct successful joint investigation.
- Private and public prosecutors conduct successful joint prosecution.
- Fisheries Act requires that municipalities protect communities from landfill pollution.
- You can fight City Hall.
Belle Park descendents:
- Ministry of Environment faces private prosecution for mismanagement at its own waste site in Deloro, Ontario.
- City of Hamilton pleads guilty to joint charges under the Fisheries Act for allowing old landfill to pollute Red Hill Creek.
- City of Moncton pleads guilty to Fisheries Act violations for leaking landfill. Environment Canada’s prosecution was prompted by Waterkeeper investigation and evidence.
- City of Toronto remediates old landfill on Humber River following Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Fisheries Act investigation.
- NAFTA watchdog, Commission for Environmental Cooperation, calls for full review of Canada’s enforcement policies after Waterkeeper groups submit evidence of Fisheries Act violations at Montreal’s leaking Technoparc site.
Mark Mattson is now Waterkeeper & President with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. He has gone on to investigate numerous Fisheries Act violations and testify as a witness for the prosecution at other leaky landfill cases. Doug Chapman is still with Sierra Legal Defence Fund in western Canada and patrols the Fraser River in his spare time. Janet Fletcher recently retired and now lives with her family in Nova Scotia.
Sierra Legal Defence Fund lawyer Rob Wright, Ministry of Environment prosecutor Jerry Herlihy, Ministry of Environment investigator Neil Rickey, and biologist David Dillenbeck were key members of the investigation and prosecution team.
In memory . . .
Bill Todd passed away Sunday May 16. Mr. Todd is a member of the Lake Ontario Hall of Fame and former Co-Chair of the Oshawa Marina Users Committee. Bill Todd was a great friend to Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. His passion and dedication to building a strong waterfront community in Oshawa is an inspiration to all.
Mr. Todd is resting at the Armstrong Funeral Home: 124 King Street East, Oshawa. (905) 433-4711. Viewing: Wednesday May 19, 2:00 to 4:00 pm and 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Service in the Funeral Chapel, 11:00 am, Thursday May 20. Interment: Thornton Cemetery, Oshawa.