Evaluating the bottom-up approach to constitutional change in Canadian environmental rights : strengths and weaknesses of environmental bylaws and the role of municipal leadership

Catherine Ryczkiewicz
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not recognize the right to a healthy environment. I argue that a bottom-up approach to recognizing the right to environmental health in the Canadian constitution will lead to more successful and meaningful changes than possible outcomes of other approaches, given the difficulties of constitutional change. The long-term goal of David Suzuki Foundation's "Right to a Healthy Environment" 2014 Initiative is to inspire constitutional negotiation for
more » ... l negotiation for environmental health rights, and in the short term, to generate awareness that Canadians do not have the right to a healthy environment. To reach these goals at the most local level, I have been asked to reviews progressive environmental bylaw's strengths and weaknesses and evaluate the role of municipal leadership; this includes the lessons that can be drawn from them, in terms of how municipal bylaws or declarations can have cascading effects up levels of government and/or influence provincial or federal policy. Accordingly, I have conducted a literature review and expert interviews, which prove that environmental bylaws or bylaw propositions have both potential strengths (distinctive competencies) and weaknesses. From this foundation I propose, to those involved in bylaw implementation or revision, the following points will increase chances of success. First, create public education campaigns. A number of successful progressive bylaws, including the Toronto Pesticide Act 2009 and Montreal Sustainable Community Planning bylaw 2005, have included an educational phase as a first step. Second, gain support from strong political, social and/or financial institutions such as the Union of British Columbian Municipalities. By doing so, these environmental initiative will have a venue for voicing concerns, increase their abilities to initiate action, and will benefit from the expertise of staff within these organizations. Third, commission for cooperation from stakeholders. Cooperation may occur between various levels of governmen [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0075679 fatcat:h2e4vprjqfhrdd7rendeqi3y7y