On November 20, 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that Canadians have the right to launch class action lawsuits against polluters, and that nuisance claims require proof only of “abnormal inconvenience,” not of wrongdoing or “fault.” This decision constitutes a major victory for environmentalists. The way has now been cleared for citizens to insist that polluters pay for the damage they cause, even when they have broken no laws.
The Supreme Court decision could be a game changer for residents fighting proposed gravel operations in Ontario, where, until now, the aggregate industry has been so powerful that even citizens’ most strenuous opposition rarely has succeeded in preventing even the most egregious abuse.
Now, for the first time, however, citizens have the means to force aggregate operators to consider the potential financial consequences of a class action lawsuit for damages when proposing gravel operations in environmentally sensitive locations, such as the Inverhaugh Valley, West Montrose, Erin, or Luther Marsh.
On Thursday, February 19, at 7:00 p.m., Gravel Watch Ontario (GWO) will present an evening with two noted experts on environmental law in Canada (see www.gravelwatch.org/whats_new.htm for details).
Gravel Watch Ontario is an organization composed of people from all over the province who are dealing with problems just like ours. Through their efforts (as well as the hammer of experience), more and more people are becoming aware of the province’s failure to deal adequately with the serious environmental issues surrounding gravel pits. In fact, the province’s antiquated, discredited “cheap gravel” policy and its correspondingly weak regulatory and policy framework have resulted, inevitably, in unacceptable, unsustainably high environmental and human health costs at the same time as they continue to generate huge profits for the aggregate industry. Clearly, we cannot rely on our governments to ensure the health of the environment.
At the GWO meeting on February 19, we’ll have an opportunity to learn about how we can use the law to help protect our communities and the environment from the reckless exploitation of aggregate operations. See you there!
Date /Time: Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009. 6:45 pm claim ticket & seat, 7:00 pm meeting
Meeting place: Puslinch Community Centre, Village of Aberfoyle, Wellington County
Road #46 just north of Highway #401. See map below.