Castonguay Blasting Ltd. v. Ontario (Environment), 2013
On October 17, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Castonguay’s conviction under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act, in the process reinforcing the importance of environmental law in Canada.
In 2007, Castonguay Blasting Ltd. went to work widening Highway 7 in Marmora, Ontario. In the process of dynamiting steep stone walls, the company launched fly-rock (literally, rock that flies through the air) onto residential property. The rock damaged a house and a car.
Castonguay felt that it had no obligation to report the incident to the provincial Ministry of the Environment. The Ministry disagreed and took Castonguay to court. Castonguay fought the charges all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2013.
The Canadian Environmental Law Association and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper believed that this case was important, so we intervened in support of the Ministry of the Environment. Arguments were heard in May 2013. In October of the same year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Castonguay, putting an end to a six-year saga.
The Supreme Court’s decision is important because it:
affirms the purpose of environmental laws,
underscores the province’s role in environmental protection,
reminds industry to help government protect the environment.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper’s and CELA’s arguments in support of the precautionary principle are cited in the Supreme Court decision, making it an important case for the field of environmental law.