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Farris LLP: Vancouver's Law Firm

Environmental Litigation and Regulation

Environmental legal issues affect the way business is transacted in British Columbia.

Farris is experienced in all facets of the practise of environmental law, including the implementation of regulatory regimes; the prosecution and defence of environmental offences; the conduct of civil litigation actions; and environmental issues that arise in the corporate and commercial realm, including the purchase, sale and development of contaminated sites, transactional support and due diligence, environmental counselling, obtaining licences and permits, environmental assessment of major projects, construction and operation of environmental infrastructure and advising clients in the environmental field. We also maintain a good relationship with the various municipal, provincial, and federal regulatory agencies.

Noted below are some examples of our involvement in environmental matters:

  • Regulatory and Government Affairs - We have acted for the Greater Vancouver Regional District (now Metro Vancouver) in the drafting and establishment of bylaws for the exercise of its environmental regulatory powers pursuant to the British Columbia Environmental Management Act, including its Air Quality Management Bylaw, Solid Waste Regulatory Bylaw, and Sewer Use Bylaw, including permitting processes thereunder, as well as the review of its Liquid Waste Management Plan. We have represented the District in respect of prosecutions under each of these bylaws before the British Columbia Environmental Appeal Board and the British Columbia courts. We have also appeared on behalf of other clients before the Environmental Appeal Board. We have also acted on behalf of the Federal Department of Justice in litigation involving water management, erosion, and land use development issues.
  • Prosecutions - We have acted for numerous clients charged with federal or provincial environmental offences under various legislation including the British Columbia Environmental Management Act, the federal Fisheries Act, the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, and the federal Canadian Environmental Protection Act. In addition, our work with the Greater Vancouver Regional District in the area of air quality, liquid waste, and solid waste management involves the prosecution of environmental offences.
  • Civil Litigation - Farris has acted for Copper Mountain Mining Corporation and Similco Mines Ltd. in one of the first actions in British Columbia allocating liability for the disposal of hazardous waste and the appeal of the same.We have acted for clients, including CAE Machinery Ltd., in cost recovery actions pursuant to the Environmental Management Act and other types of actions, including trespass and nuisance, involving civil liability arising from environmental damage. We have also acted for the Asbestos Corporation and other named defendants in defence of multiple actions concerning the use of asbestos and successfully defended the general contractor in the first asbestos-related property damage claim in Canada. Our litigators are, therefore, uniquely placed to advise upon and conduct environmental litigation.
  • Brownfields Development - In conjunction with our real estate group, we have acted for clients throughout British Columbia involving the purchase, sale, redevelopment, crossing, and remediation of contaminated properties. Our lawyers represent owners, operators, buyers, and sellers of such properties throughout the province, including the developer of the former Expo 86 site in Vancouver. These matters often involve complex environmental issues, including regulatory compliance (on land and in the marine environment); historical environmental liabilities; multiple past ownership; risk allocation and liability transfer mechanism; strategies and funding for environmental remediation and habitat compensation; environmental insurance; municipal zoning approvals; and permitting requirements.
  • Transactional Support and Due Diligence - We have experience conducting environmental due diligence reviews and assessments for a wide range of commercial transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, construction, and infrastructure projects and financings. Our transactional support work also includes preparing and negotiating representations and warranties, indemnities and covenants dealing with potential environmental liabilities, and the allocation of risk and responsibilities among the parties involved.
  • Environmental Counselling – We often advise clients regarding their potential exposure to environmental risks and liability arising from commercial activities, whether acquisitions, dispositions, real estate transactions, financings, or in the ordinary course of business. We provide opinions relating to the prospective liability of parent corporations, affiliates, shareholders, directors, officers, contractors, and successors in interest.
  • Licences and Permits – We assist clients in obtaining regulatory licences, permits, and governmental approvals under various legislation including the British Columbia Environmental Management Act and the federal Fisheries Act.
  • Major Projects Review and Assessment - We have assisted numerous clients, including the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (TransLink), Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District, and Greater Vancouver Water District in their review, pursuant to the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act and the federal Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, of potential environmental impacts arising from major projects, including components of the Gateway Program, the Golden Ears Bridge project, the Cache Creek Landfill and alternative options for solid waste disposal, and the Seymour-Capilano Drinking Water Filtration Plant Project. We also acted on behalf of the Government of Canada in the Kemano Completion Project (Alcan) hearings.
  • Environmental Infrastructure - Our work with Metro Vancouver has also included the negotiation and drafting of contracts for the construction of its Annacis Island Wastewater Treatment Plant and Seymour-Capilano Drinking Water Filtration Plant, and the construction and operation of the Cache Creek Landfill and its Burnaby Waste-to-Energy Facility. We have also negotiated and drafted contacts relating to electricity cogeneration facilities.
  • Advising Environmental and Clean Technology Companies - We act as counsel to a number of companies whose products and services relate to environmental matters and clean technologies, including Paradigm Environmental Technologies Inc. which has developed a patented waste activated sludge for digesting waste water residuals, Exro Technologies Inc. which has developed a variable input electrical generator for optimizing turbine output, Day4 Energy Inc. which manufactures solar panels, Smithrite Disposal Ltd. which provides waste disposal services, Clean Current Power Systems Incorporated which develops tidal/ocean/river power generation technology, Pulse Energy Inc. which develops building energy efficiency software, and the EcoSmart Foundation which develops low greenhouse gas emissions cement technology. We also act for a number of utility companies whose businesses raise a broad spectrum of environmental issues from radiation emissions, EMF fields, and impacts from physical plant infrastructure.

Our Lawyers

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Robert S. Anderson, Q.C. Partner randerson@farris.com 604 661 9372
R. Hector MacKay-Dunn, Q.C. Partner hmackay-dunn@farris.com 604 661 9307
B. R. (Brian) Canfield Partner bcanfield@farris.com 604 661 9362
Scott A. Dawson Partner sdawson@farris.com 604 661 9354
Christopher R. Holmes Senior Counsel cholmes@farris.com 604 661 9335
Robert J. McDonell Partner rmcdonell@farris.com 604 661 9371
Teresa M. Tomchak Partner ttomchak@farris.com 604 661 1711
Mike Wagner Partner mwagner@farris.com 604 661 9388
Ronald A. Chin Associate rchin@farris.com 604 661 9333