BC court favors environmental groups, but “public interest standing” remains out of reach.
In Gagne v. Sharpe a denial of standing by the BC Environmental Appeals Board was found to involve unfair process, unnecessary requirements and impossible evidentiary standards. This decision is significant to environmental advocates in Alberta as similar hurdles to standing exist here and the decision rests on common law principles of broad applicability. Most notably the court found that duties of fairness owed to affected persons and the policy rationales behind public interest standing applied in the same case.
The flip side is that the court endorses a legislated restriction of standing without indicating how environmental advocates might actually qualify. The court found that “public interest standing” is not legally available despite recognizing that it could be an effective way to screen environmental appeals. These statements were unnecessary to decide the case and they replicate prior questionable decisions.
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