The Court upheld an Environmental Protection Order issued by the Minister of the Environment as valid under the Environmental Management and Protection Act. The Court held that the appellants had been properly notified of the Minister’s intent to issue the order, and that despite the fact that the appellants no longer occupied the property in question, the Order conformed with the “polluter pay” principle established by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Ministerial orders – Environmental matters – Contaminated sites – Remediation – Judicial review – Compliance with legislation

Envirogun Ltd. v. Saskatchewan (Minister of Environment), [2012] S.J. No. 320, 2011 SKQB 339, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, September 16, 2011, J.E. McMurty J.

The Appellants, Envirogun Ltd. and its sole director, Clint Kimery, appealed an Environmental Protection Order (“EPO”) issued by the Minster of the Environment (the “Minister”) on January 11, 2011. The EPO stated that the Minister was of the opinion that the Appellants improperly stored hazardous substances waste and dangerous goods at their facility that may cause an adverse environmental effect and gave a number of directions to the Appellants which were ordered to be completed by March 31, 2011.

The appellants appealed the EPO under s. 54 of the Environmental Management and Protection Act (“EMPA”), claiming primarily that they were entitled to be forewarned of the Minister’s concerns before the EPO was issued under s. 49(2) of the EMPA. The Appellants claimed that the Notice of Intent to Issue an Environmental Protection Order (“Notice of Intent”) they received contained only some of the Minister’s concerns, that the property in question was no longer under their control, and that they were not aware of any discharge within the meaning of the EMPA occurring on the property.

The Court was of the view that the Notice of Intent clearly conveyed the Minister’s concerns that the Appellants had not complied with certain legal obligations and that the EPO served as a notice that they would be given a particular time frame to do so. The appellants were not misled as to the Minister’s concerns and were given an appropriate opportunity to remedy those concerns.

The Appellants also argued that, as they no longer occupied the property, the management of any hazardous waste on that property was not their responsibility. The Court rejected that argument stating that the Minister’s action, in holding the Appellants responsible, was consistent with the “polluter pay” principle established by the Supreme Court of Canada in Imperial Oil Ltd. v. Quebec (Minster of the Environment).

On the basis the Court upheld the Minster’s judgment as reasonable and correct, and dismissed the appeal.

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