Now that mandatory minimum environmental fines are so high,
courts occasionally refuse to impose them. For example, in R v. KIE Farms Ltd., a justice of the
peace refused to impose a $25,000 minimum fine on a local farm,
even though seepage from its corn silo made a local
watercourse toxic to fish.
The company pleaded guilty to discharging silage seepage into an
agricultural drain, contravening the Ontario Water Resources
Act. The silage seepage made the drain water black-coloured
and smelly. Total ammonia concentrations exceeded acute
lethality levels for fish, and high BOD and phosphorus levels were
The Court has discretion under s. 59(2) of the Provincial Offences Act to refuse to
impose a minimum fine. The Court considered that specific
deterrence was not required, noting the company's quick actions
to mitigate, at a cost of over $500,000. The company
had cooperated with the MOE, acknowledged its fault and shown
remorse. The business was well-run, with a strong community
relationship and respect for the environment. Nor was
there proof of actual harm to aquatic life.
Fine imposed: $8000 + VFS.
In another example, R. v. Conrad Larocque, a
Justice of the peace refused to impose the $5000 minimum penalty on
an individual who spilled oil from a waste oil tank, initially hid
it and lost his job as a result. Mr. Larocque showed remorse,
worked long hours to clean up the spill, pleaded guilty at the
first opportunity, had suffered embarrassment in his community, and
was unemployed and receiving social assistance. Penalty: Suspended
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Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
The Imperial Oil refinery pled guilty to one offence for discharging a contaminant, coker stabilizer, thermocracked gas, into the natural environment causing an adverse effect and was fined $650,000...
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