R. V. Toronto Electric Commissioners Case Study

1028 Words 4 Pages
I have been asked to provide my legal opinion on the event where sand was discharged from Elmira Aggregate Ltd. (EAL) stockpiles onto Jennifer Shantz’s adjacent property and into a small waterway. More specifically, on weather EAL has breached section 15(1) of the Environmental Protection Act (“EPA”) by failing to notify the Ministry of a discharge of a contaminant. As rationalized below, I believe that EAL has breached its legal obligation to comply with s.15 of the EPA as they did not immediately report the incident, where a contaminant was discharged into the natural environment, to the Ministry of Environment.

Duty to Notify

Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O 1990, c. E.19 (“EPA”), requires the Ministry of the Environment
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This definition includes “any solid, liquid, gas, odor, hear, sound, vibration, radiation or combination of any of them resulting in directly or indirectly from human activities that causes or may cause an adverse effect”. In this case sand is considered a solid that may cause adverse effects resulting from indirect human activities, as elaborated on below. This is strongly supported in the R. v. Toronto Electric Commissioners case where a contaminant is looked at its capacity to impair. In EAL’s case sand has the ability to impair the fish population in the waterway.

In determination as to whether the contaminant affects the “natural environment” is defined in s.1(1), as the “air, land and water, or any combination or part thereof, of the Province of Ontario”. EAL’s discharge of a contaminant interfered with what the EPA considers the natural environment since a significant amount of sand was discharged into a waterway that flowed into the Nith River as well as in Ontario’s land and air. Based on s.1 and the above interpretations, EAL can be held accountable for the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment. To have breached s.15 of the Environmental Protection Act, the discharge of the contaminant by EAL would have to meet the two pre-conditions, have been out of the normal course of events and having or likely to have adverse environmental impact (Castonguay Blasting, at para.
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In June 2015 EAL temporarily moved stockpiles of sand to facilitate expansion. Since this was not a normal activity EAL can be held responsible for the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment that was out of the normal course of event.

Adverse effects

The determination as to whether the discharge of a contaminant causes or is likely to cause adverse affects depends on the interpretation of adverse effects outlined by the EPA in s.1. Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O 1990, c. E.19 (“EPA”), highlights the statutory definition of adverse affects. Eight components are listed in para. (a) to (h) each of which is a separate impact that can trigger the requirement to report.

After the Canadian Pacific case was decided the term “adverse effects” has been rephrased making it less vague and more applicable to Elmira Aggretate Ltd.’s situation. Under the new definition EAL’s discharge of sand caused an adverse effect under paras. (a), and (f) of the definition, namely, it is likely to impair the quality of the natural environment and render animal life. There is no indication that there was a loss of enjoyment in property use for Shantz (s.1, para

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