29 Nov Roxanne’s story: What your donations support
When Roxanne Walsh first contacted the Environmental Law Centre on October 24, 2006, asking for information about how she could protect her community, we had no idea it would lead to a three year journey.
As a resident of Turner Valley, Alberta, Roxanne was concerned that the municipality wanted to build a drinking water reservoir on top of an abandoned oil and gas site. She wanted to make sure that the Town had followed due diligence in testing for toxins that could potentially leak into the water. Roxanne decided to submit a Statement of Concern in appealing a decision by Alberta Environment to approve the water reservoir.
Over three years, our staff helped Roxanne by answering her questions, assisting her research, and helping her engage in a formal appeal process. In total, she contacted the Centre 68 times with various questions that required the expertise of our Staff Counsel. Eventually we referred her to a pro-bono lawyer who could represent her case in the appeal. The lawyer who took over the case only three weeks before the appeal hearing said that was it not for the ELC providing such strong support, she could not have taken the case.
“The legal process was intimidating. I didn’t know what I was getting into. I just wanted to make sure that was a good spot for a water reservoir and to find out if the Town and the Appeals Board had all of the information. So many days I wanted to quit because it was so overwhelming. It was Jodie, the ELC staff lawyer, who encouraged me and assisted me to keep going because it was an important matter. I really felt that she supported me; that she had my back.”
From the beginning of Roxanne’s process to the final decision in 2008, Alberta Environment began requiring more protective measures, more monitoring and more testing on the oil field. When the final report was issued, the Appeals Board required that the Town commit to all of these additional measures to ensure the safety of the community’s water. It was a win-win for the Town and for the environment.
“I just wanted to take a moment to thank the Environmental Law Centre…The difficulties I encountered on my journey were less of an obstacle because of the assistance provided by your lawyers. Since I had no way pay for such services at the time, I am grateful for the existence of the Environmental Law Centre and the help they provided me. And I also appreciate how friendly the rest of your staff were when I called in. Not only did I change my community for the better,
but I received a Hometown Heroes award for my work.