A Sudbury ready mix concrete company, Rainbow Concrete Industries Ltd., pleaded guilty to one count under s. 30 of the Ontario Water Resources Act, for discharging concrete waste water into a Sudbury creek, and received a creative sentence plus a fine. This is good news.
Creative sentences, i.e. looking for remedial action, not just a fine, were common and effective tools when I was an Ontario Ministry of the Environment prosecutor. They are used widely by Environment Canada, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and many other environmental regulators around the world. Ontario, however, turned away from creative sentences some years ago, allegedly due to a reported opinion from the Ministry of the Attorney General that there was something improper about them. (I never did understand what.)
I was therefore delighted to learn that improving the environment was again the primary focus of sentencing in a Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change prosecution. Rainbow Concrete agreed to:
- Perform stream and bank rehabilitation and cleanup work worth about $110,000;
- Make a donation to the Vale Centre’s Living with Lakes program at Laurentian University of $10,000 for water quality research;
- Implement a training program for its staff, using draft materials reviewed by Crown counsel and the Hon. Senior Regional JP Kitlar, and
- Paid a $40,000 fine under the Ontario Water Resources Act.
I was even more delighted to learn that my writings about creative sentencing, and the precedents that I set so many years ago, were influential in developing this agreement. Well done to all concerned.