A Short History
In the past fifteen years, it has become evident that citizens and non-government organizations (NGOs) are facing increased financial and technical barriers to participating in environmental decision-making processes on approvals, planning, and assessments and hearing processes. In part this is due to the various effects of “downsizing,” streamlining, and harmonization policies being implemented by all levels of government in Canada, the United States and other nations. In addition, there are greater demands on funding sources for all non-profit and volunteer-based organizations. Moreover, globalization and issues such as climate change are altering the complexity of legal and policy issues.
One mechanism that is available to level the playing field is called participant or intervenor funding. The concept behind intervenor funding is fairly straightforward. By the mid 1980s many public hearing processes (for example, the Ontario Energy Board or OEB) were based on full-cost recovery, proponents-pay cost awards; cost awards to intervenors are determined at the end of the hearing to compensate them for their participation. Intervenor funding simply provides funding in advance of a hearing for those who cannot otherwise afford to participate without up-front funding. Intervenor awards are deducted from the cost awards at end.
This book examines the early evolution of intervenor funding in the mid 1970s and early 1980s through the lens of the Berger Inquiry, the first major public inquiry in Canada which examined the environmental and social impacts of a pipeline mega-project through the Northwest Territories. In the Berger Inquiry, First Nations communities, environmental groups and individuals were able to better contribute to the public hearings because of the intervenor funding financial assistance provided to them.
In June 1988, then Ontario Attorney General Ian Scott, introduced the Intervenor Funding Project Act in the Ontario Legislature. Scott had acted as commission counsel to the Berger Inquiry (1974-1978) and this provided a model for legislation subsequently passed in many other jurisdictions in Canada.
This book explores key topics such as: Why was funding for participation in environmental decision-making important? When should it be used? What can groups do to achieve their goals in the event that they are unable to obtain adequate resources?