Ontario flurry of convictions

Written by on November 07, 2011. Posted in Environmental laws

In a typical year, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment launches about 150 to 175 prosecutions. About 75% of them are resolved by guilty pleas; about 5% are acquitted at trial; about 10% are convicted of something at trial; about 10% are withdrawn. Thus, we expect to hear about 12 or so convictions a month, most of them for relatively minor offences and resulting in modest fines.

This month, however, has been a bumper crop.In the last few weeks alone, the ministry has announced more than 2 dozen convictions, for everything from failing to file an annual report for its waste disposal site (Smooth Rock Falls, $5000) to an $85,000 fine for illegally dumping auto fluff in an unlicensed quarry (Kimco Steel and Charles Dietrich Construction). Four involve prosecution of municipalities. The Ministry continues to actively enforce its full range of statutes: the Environmental Protection Act; the Ontario Water Resources Act; the Pesticides Act; the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Federal enforcement remains comparatively weak, with only 3 convictions in the same time period for the entire country: two for wildlife violations (maximum fine $14,500) and one under the Fisheries Act.