The City of Kingston is seeking leave to appeal its Fisheries Act convictions at the Supreme Court of Canada. Since 1996, citizens, non-profit organizations, and the Ministry of Environment have been in court working to force the city to clean up the leaking Belle Park landfill.
The Ministry of Environment will defend its charges, if the city is granted leave to appeal. Janet Fletcher, the private informant who launched the initial proceedings, will allow the MOE to pursue the case alone after an Ontario Court of Appeal decision ruled that labs must add water to samples before testing their effect on fish.
Fletcher's samples were tested at 100% concentration, while the Ministry of Environment diluted its samples numerous times - except with extreme dilution, all samples killed fish in the laboratory tests.
Fletcher, along with Sierra Legal Defence Fund and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, wholeheartedly support the Ministry of Environment's case. From the beginning, the MOE's Investigations and Enforcement Branch (IEB) has worked closely with private citizens to prove and remediate the Belle Park landfill. Its investigation was prompted by a brief presented by Fletcher, SLDF, and Waterkeeper's Mark Mattson. Legal Services pursued charges after Fletcher's private charges were laid, and the parties undertook a collaborative prosecution against the City of Kingston.
Waterkeeper believes that the Ministry of Environment's legal team will put forward the most powerful defense of the public interest that citizens could hope for. "From the beginning, IEB and Legal Services have worked diligently to protect Ontarians and our environment from threats to our waterways," says Waterkeeper Mark Mattson.
Waterkeeper now awaits the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the City of Kingston's application. For a background on the Belle Park case, including details of its influence on Canadian environmental law, please read our May 17, 2004 newsletter, Landmark decision on Lake Ontario.