Judith Lavoie

Primary tabs

Judith Lavoie's picture

Personal Information

Twitter URL
https://twitter.com/LavoieJudith
Profile Info
Judith Lavoie is an award-winning journalist based in Victoria, British Columbia. Lavoie covered environment and First Nations stories for the Victoria Times Colonist for more than 20 years and is now working as a freelancer. She previously worked on newspapers in New Brunswick, Cyprus, England and the Middle East. Lavoie has won four Webster awards and has been nominated for a National Newspaper Award and a Michener Award.

BC Hydro Let Off Hook for $400,000 Site C Dam Fine … Again

Site C dam construction

Sandbags, bales of weed-free straw, crushed gravel and silt fencing are among the extra supplies BC Hydro has stockpiled at the Site C dam construction site to avoid federal fines.

In early January the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency issued BC Hydro with a Notice of Intent to Issue an Order after inspectors found that “no erosion and sediment contingency supplies” were to be found at three sites.

The agency also noted BC Hydro could face fines of up to $400,000 for not meeting the conditions set out in its environmental certificate. 

It’s not the first time BC Hydro has been found in contravention of the law. In May, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency found BC Hydro had failed to measure air pollution and threatened BC Hydro with a $400,000 fine.

BC Hydro, in a Jan. 5 letter to the Environmental Assessment Agency, said all measures had been taken to restore the Site C project to a “state of conformity,” and, after studying photographs supplied by BC Hydro, the agency agreed that there was no need to issue the order, which could have resulted in hefty fines.

Tsilhqot’in Ready for Yet Another Fight if B.C. Grants Mine Exploration Permits Denied by Feds

Tsilhqot'in man beats a drum at Fish Lake, site of the proposed Taseko New Prosperity Mine. Photo by Garth Lenz.

A bizarre twist in a decade-long battle over a proposed mine on Tsilhqot’in Nation traditional territory could see the B.C. government issue extensive exploration permits for the mine this month even though the project has twice been turned down by the federal government.

The proposal by Taseko Mines Ltd. to build a $1.5-billion open pit, copper and gold mine in the Cariboo region — a plan which received vocal support from Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett — was approved in 2010 by the provincial government after a B.C. environmental assessment.

But, the same year, the Prosperity Mine was rejected by the federal review panel, which took a dim view of plans to drain Fish Lake, known to Tsilhqot’in as Teztan Biny, for use as a tailings pond.

The company took a second shot with a proposal for the New Prosperity Mine, which would save Fish Lake and situate the tailings pond two kilometres away in a smaller lake. But, the federal government again turned it down in 2014, despite a trip to Ottawa by Bennett in an effort to persuade the federal government of the importance of the mine to the economy of B.C.

Mining Giant Taseko Seeks to Revive B.C. Gold Mine Twice-Rejected by Harper Government

Two rejections by the federal government have not deterred a Vancouver mining company from again heading to court in an effort to quash Ottawa’s decision to turn down a proposal for an open-pit copper and gold mine in an area where the Tsilhqot’in Nation has established aboriginal rights.

Taseko Mines Ltd. is appearing in Federal Court in Vancouver this week to launch a constitutional challenge to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and ask for a judicial review of the federal government’s decision to reject the proposed $1.5-billion New Prosperity Mine, 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake.

Despite the project gaining provincial approval in 2010, the federal government turned down the proposal in 2010 and 2014, saying there would be severe environmental damage and immitigable adverse effects on Tsilhqot’in culture, heritage and aboriginal rights.

This First Nation Just Banned Industrial Logging and Mining from Vancouver Island Territory

Connection to the land and ocean has guided the Ahousaht people throughout their history and that bond is now at the root of a new sustainable economic development plan for the First Nation whose territory spans the heart of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Under the first phase of the plan, announced Thursday, there will be no mining or industrial logging in Ahousaht traditional territory and about Tweet: 80% of 171,000 hectares of #Ahousaht traditional territory will be set aside as cultural & natural areas http://bit.ly/2kvGsTu #bcpoli80 per cent of almost 171,000 hectares will be set aside as cultural and natural areas “to conserve biological diversity, natural landscapes and wilderness and to provide to Ahousaht continued spiritual, cultural and sustenance use.”

During recent years there has been controversy in Ahousaht territory over a proposed open pit copper mine on Catface Mountain on Flores Island and over old-growth logging, which was halted after Ahousaht hereditary chiefs declared a moratorium in 2015.

Secrecy Around Composition of Oilsands Dilbit Makes Effective Spill Response, Research Impossible: New Study

Knowledge gaps about the behaviour of diluted bitumen when it is spilled into saltwater and lack of information about how to deal with multiple problems that can result from extracting and transporting bitumen from the Alberta oilsands, make it impossible for government or industry to come up with effective policies to deal with a disaster, says a newly published research paper, Oilsands and the Marine Environment.

Review of 9,000 Studies Finds We Know Squat About Bitumen Spills in Ocean Environments

Nobody knows how a spill of diluted bitumen would affect marine life or whether a bitumen spill in salt water could be adequately cleaned up, because basic research is lacking, says a new study.

The peer-reviewed paper, which will be published later this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, looked at more than 9,000 studies of the effect of oilsands products on the marine environment.

Southern Resident Killer Whales Unlikely to Survive Increase in Oil Tanker Traffic, Say Experts

Under the waves of Haro Strait, hydrophones record the noise made by passing vessels and, if you happen to be a whale, the din is already disorienting and disturbing, making it difficult to echo-locate food or communicate with other members of the pod.

Tweet: ‘It’s a thunder. Thump-thump-thump, accompanied by squeals & engine noise - like being under the hood of a hot-rod’ http://bit.ly/2gi1faFIt’s a thunder. Thump, thump, thump, accompanied by squeals and engine noise. It’s like being under the hood of a hot-rod,” said Howard Garrett, president of Orca Network, the Washington State group that tracks the comings and goings of the 80 remaining members of the endangered southern resident killer whales.

All recent studies of the resident pods have identified marine noise around the Strait of Georgia and Juan de Fuca Strait as one of the stressors threatening their survival, in addition to lack of Chinook salmon — the whales’ favourite prey — contaminants accumulating in their blubber and degradation of their critical habitat.

First-ever Indigenous Freedom of Religion Case Heads to Canada’s Supreme Court

A precedent-setting case that could affect the ability of First Nations to protect their sacred sites and which has implications for indigenous rights worldwide, is heading to Canada’s top court Thursday.

The Ktunaxa First Nation, based in Cranbrook, in a lawsuit against the B.C. government and Glacier Resorts Ltd, is arguing the first Canadian case based on aboriginal spirituality and freedom of religion and the case has drawn interveners from faith groups, human rights organizations and business groups from across Canada.

Lawyers acting for the Ktunaxa Nation and Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair, will argue that, in 2012, the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources violated the First Nation’s religious rights by approving the master plan for the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort in an area known as Qat’muk, the home of the grizzly bear spirit, where many key Ktunaxa spiritual beliefs and practices are centred.

Art in the Heart of Controversy: Konelīne Cuts Through Rhetoric About Resource Extraction

Koneline: Our Land Beautiful

There are no good guys or bad guys in the documentary Konelīne and that extraordinary lack of judgement is what rivets attention as the film examines the changing landscape and lifestyles of northwestern British Columbia.

As massive machinery moves into the wild landscape, first to build the Northwest Transmission Line and then to work on the Brucejack gold mine and the Red Chris copper mine, lives are disrupted or changed and, whether it is a lineman, miner, guide outfitter, First Nations elder or Tahltan language student, director Nettie Wild captures the love that all the characters have for the wilderness.

What some call progress, others see as the end of a way of life. Some hunt on the land, some mine it and they all love it.

NDP Pledge to End B.C.'s Grizzly Bear Trophy Hunt if Elected

Grizzly bear trophy hunt

Grizzly bear trophy hunting will be banned, for both resident and foreign hunters, if the NDP form the next provincial government, leader John Horgan promised Thursday.

The NDP is walking a fine line between meshing the party’s views with the 90 per cent of British Columbians who say they oppose the hunt and supporting rural voters who fear a grizzly hunting ban could affect food hunting.

There has been active discussion in caucus, but there was a general recognition of the tremendous opposition to the hunt from both rural and urban residents balanced by the need to reassure hunters that New Democrats are not anti-hunting, George Heyman, NDP environment spokesman said in an interview.

Horgan, describing grizzlies as an iconic species, carefully emphasized that sustenance hunting will not be affected and said B.C.’s heritage and its future can thrive if government makes the right choices.

Pages