The Environmental Damages Fund was established in 1995 to direct money received from fines and payments for environmental offences under 10 federal environmental statutes to worthy environmental projects.
Eligible projects must be located in the region in which the offence occurred and address one of the following categories: Restoration, Environmental Quality Improvement, Research & Development, or Education & Awareness.
On August 13, 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada announced over $5 million in funding for the following four environmental projects in Québec:
- Kativik Regional Government ($1.45 million): To identify abandoned outfitting camps in the Nunavik sector of the Caniapiscau River watershed and restore the affected environment and to clean up and restore those camps deemed as harmful to the environment and wildlife, with a focus on supporting shoreline restoration.
- Water First ($500,000): To increase and stabilize fish populations located in waterways in the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach traditional territory and to deliver an adaptable and scalable community education program on fish stewardship to five Indigenous communities across northern Quebec and Labrador.
- National Institute of Scientific Research – Centre on Water, Earth, and the Environment ($1.54 million): To restore and protect fish habitats, deliver education programs, and seek to create and maintain cooperation between project stakeholders and local communities.
- First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, Sustainable Development Institute ($1.6 million): To work with First Nations to create awareness on the effects of mining sites on the environment and to build their capacity to identify and restore hazardous ones.
The funds come from $7.5 million in fines paid by Bloom Lake General Partner Limited for 45 charges related to infractions of the Fisheries Act at their Bloom Lake mine site near Fermont, Quebec in May 2011.
The charges were a result of an Environment Canada investigation which found that Bloom Lake was responsible for:
- a breach of the mine’s tailing pond dam that released over 200,000 cubic meters of deleterious materials into fish-bearing waters over the course of seven days;
- a release of some 14,500 liters of ferric sulfate into water frequented by fish;
- failing to inform the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of the releases of the deleterious materials; and,
- failing to take samples and conduct analyses of its effluent as required.
Bloom Lake plead guilty in 2014, and paid what was at that time the largest Canadian penalty for environmental infractions and the biggest contribution to the Environmental Damages Fund.