Sierra Club, bridge lose bid to derail DRIC

BY DYLAN KRISTY, THE WINDSOR STAR

The Detroit River International Crossing cleared its latest hurdle Wednesday after the Federal Court dismissed allegations that Transport Canada was biased against a twin span and that additional analysis were necessary.

After four days of hearings, the Federal Court concluded that an application for judicial review by the Canadian Transit Company and the Sierra Club of Canada to set aside an environmental assessment decision of Dec. 3, 2009 were “without any merit and must be dismissed.”

“This was just another attempt by the Ambassador Bridge to distract from the issue that sovereign countries need the opportunity and have the opportunity to be able to improve infrastructure for larger purposes than somebody else’s wallet,” MP Brian Masse (NDP-Windsor West) said Wednesday.

“For environmental and economic reasons we need the new crossing beyond the interest of basically a greed philosophy and it’s time that we moved on.”

The 101-page court document states the two applications relied upon five issues:

  • Transport Canada was biased against allowing the Canadian Transit Company to build a second span to the Ambassador Bridge. The court found that the reasoning behind eliminating a second span has nothing to do with being publicly or privately owned. The decision to have a second bridge in a different location was decided in case of a terrorist attack or mishap that caused one bridge to become unavailable.
  • The Sierra Club of Canada alleged that the federal authorities used an outdated analysis of bridge traffic, but the court determined that the decline in bridge traffic does not affect long-term projections.
  • Transport Canada purchased $34 million worth of land from the City of Windsor before an environmental assessment was completed, breaching the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act which requires an assessment to be completed before a federal authority commits to carrying out a project. The court decided purchasing land does not commit to carrying out the project and the land can always be sold if the project is not approved.
  • The Sierra Club alleged the federal “responsible authorities” breached a precautionary principle under the Act which did not specify feasible opinions of studying adverse environmental effects against endangered species during the construction of the new road. The court was satisfied with the measures taken.
  • The Sierra Club alleged the federal authorities failed to assess the environmental impact after homes were purchased to create additional 100-metre buffer zone. Because the homes were purchased as a separate project undertaken by the Ontario government, the issue was dismissed.

“I can’t believe that the Sierra Club can counter the fact that we have had to have children with their backpacks through Health Canada monitoring go to school to see what kind of health damage they have had,” Masse said.”This is tremendous that we now have another false legal challenge behind us and can finally move forward.”