Learn more about environmental issues and your rights at an upcoming presentation.
The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), a non-profit specialty clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario, has teamed up with Friends of the Porcupine River Watershed for a public presentation Aug. 9 from 3 – 4 p.m. at the Senator Hotel in Timmins. It’s one of two public information sessions the organization is giving in Northern Ontario this summer in advance of launching its northern services pilot project in September.
The free session is open to everybody and is a chance to learn about what the Friends of the Porcupine River Watershed are doing, as well as hear about environmental issues and rights.
“One of the core services that we provide as a legal clinic are these public presentations on environmental issues and they’re really just meant to inform residents about the everyday environmental issues that may affect them as well as the various ways that these issues can be addressed or resolved,” said Alexandra Robertson, a CELA summer student who will be doing the presentation.
She’ll be talking about indoor environmental contaminants that can negatively impact people’s health such as radon or asbestos, as well as how to improve the energy efficiency at home through different programs.
“And then we’re going to talk about different pieces of law that they may not know about, so for instance in Ontario we have an environmental bill of rights that allows people to participate in environmental decision-making that affects them either by commenting on proposed laws or asking the government to take a second look at decisions that it’s made. So really there’s a lot of stuff that I think people can learn from the presentation,” Robertson said.
The pilot project being launched in September will see a CELA lawyer stationed in northern Ontario, although where that will be has yet to be determined.
“The idea of that will be to continue doing more public legal education and also to do in-take, so to make sure that people in Northern Ontario are aware of CELA’s services, can access them and then can get assistance if appropriate with their legal needs relating to the environmental,” said CELA lawyer Jacqueline Wilson.
She explained that the legal aid clinic has a province-wide mandate and has always provided services in the north.
“We just wanted to make sure that people are aware of that and accessing our services, and so that’s the idea with the pilot that will hopefully turn into a permanent position,” Wilson said.
With sewage being bypassed into Porcupine Lake, a group of residents concerned about the future of the lake connected with CELA earlier this year to look at potential options to clean up the lake.
Recently the Friends of the Porcupine River Watershed and the Porcupine Lake Information Group merged to form a new Friends of the Porcupine River Watershed to create a stronger voice and community presence.
CELA is hoping to learn more about the sewage bypasses during their trip.
“CELA made a request to meet with the Ministry of the Environment and the City of Timmins about the ongoing sewage bypass issues, so we’re hoping to be able to meet with them while we’re in town,” Wilson said.