Both levels of government have jurisdiction over aspects of environment

Environmental Law – Constitutional issues – Jurisdiction to enact environmental legislation

Province passed amendments to Environmental Management Act regarding transportation of dangerous substances. Amendments specifically targeted heavy oil transported through pipelines and gave broad discretion to Minister of Environment regarding permits. Province obtained reference decision regarding constitutionality of amendments, where amendments were found to be unconstitutional. Appellate court found it was not within legislative authority of Province to pass legislation at issue, as it crossed line from environmental law of general application and regulation of federal undertakings. Appellate court found in pith and substance, matter was regulation of interprovincial or federal undertaking. Appellate court found while both levels of government have jurisdiction over aspects of environment, property rights in s. 92(13) of Constitution Act did not support superior or presumptive claim by Province. Province appealed. Appeal dismissed. Reasons to appellate court were adopted.

Reference re Environmental Management Act (2020), 2020 CarswellBC 115, 2020 CarswellBC 116, 2020 SCC 1, 2020 CSC 1, Wagner C.J.C., Abella J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Côté J., Brown J., Rowe J., Martin J., and Kasirer J. (S.C.C.); affirmed (2019), 2019 CarswellBC 1429, 2019 BCCA 181, Bauman C.J.B.C., Newbury J.A., Groberman J.A., Harris J.A., and Fenlon J.A. (B.C. C.A.).

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