December 11/1998

Environmental group wins Private Prosecution against City of Kingston for toxic waste dump polluting the Great Cataraqui River

Today, Justice of the Peace Jack Bell of the Ontario Court (Provincial Division) in Kingston convicted the City of Kingston for violating the federal Fisheries Act. With legal representation from the Sierra Legal Defence Fund (SLDF), the private prosecution was commenced in 1997 by local resident, Janet Fletcher.

Ms. Fletcher is an advisory panel member of the new group, the Environmental Bureau of Investigation (EBI), and worked jointly with SLDF to lay the charges against the City of Kingston under the federal Fisheries Act for allowing toxic leachate to pour out of a former City waste dump, which is now a public park and golf course, and into the Cataraqui River. “City of Kingston officials knew for years about the toxic material pouring from this site into the River and refused to take any action to prevent it,” explained Fletcher.

The evidence presented by SLDF’s investigators and legal team showed that the toxic liquid that discharged into the River from the north shore of Belle Park was so concentrated that all the test fish that were exposed to it were killed almost immediately.

“With all the Ontario government cutbacks, it is a tragedy that Ontario’s citizens have to do the government’s investigation work for them. This case should send a clear message to Queen’s Park that the government should put the protection of a healthy environment back on their priority list,” stated SLDF Staff Lawyer, Jerry DeMarco. He continued:”Now that we have exposed this pollution site, we must now ask how many other toxic time bombs there are elsewhere in the province that government is ignoring.”

Sentencing for the offences will be determined at a future court date. The maximum fine for the offence under the Fisheries Act is $1.2 million in addition to any clean-up orders that may be imposed by the court.