Save Halkett Bay Marine Park Society v. Canada (Environment)

In Miscellaneous Maritime Law Topics on (Updated )

Précis: An Application for judicial review of a decision authorizing the sinking of a destroyer to create an artificial reef was dismissed for delay and also on the merits.

Facts: The respondent had obtained a Disposal at Sea Permit from the Minister of the Environment to sink a decommissioned destroyer in the waters of Halkett Bay near Vancouver for the purpose of creating an artificial reef. The applicant filed an objection to the permit and ultimately commenced these proceedings for judicial review of the Minister’s decision. The issues were: (1) was the Application filed late? (2) Did the Minister fail to consider that the destroyer contained TBTs which are banned in Canada? and, (3) was the issuance of the permit unreasonable?

Decision: Application dismissed.


(1) Section 18.1(2) of the Federal Courts Act requires that an Application for judicial review be commenced within 30 days. This Application was filed more than two months beyond that time limit and is therefore filed late. The court does, however, have a discretion to extend the time limit. The relevant factors are whether: (i) there was a continuing intention to pursue the application; (ii) there is merit to the application; (iii) the other parties have suffered prejudice as a result of the delay, and (iv) there is a reasonable explanation for the delay. Here, there is substantial prejudice to the respondent from the delay and the delay has not been explained. Accordingly, the Application is dismissed for delay.

(2) The Applicant argues that TBTs are subject to a complete ban in Canada and that the Minister failed to take this into account. However, there is no such complete ban in the relevant statutes and the Minister was entitled to issue a permit.

(3) Finally, the Applicant argues the Minister’s decision was unreasonable in that: (i) the basis for the decision was not explained; (ii) the Minister failed to follow accepted protocols for the testing of anti-fouling paint; and (iii) the existence of any TBTs whatsoever in the hull required the permit be refused. However, the Minister was under no duty to issue detailed reasons for the decision separate and apart from the decision record and the permit itself. The record discloses the reasons of the Minister. Also, contrary to the submissions of the Applicant, the Minister did observe the accepted protocols for testing anti-fouling paint. Finally, there is no clear and compelling evidence that the vessel did contain TBTs and, in the absence of such evidence, the Minister’s decision is deserving of deference.