Nuisances in Malartic
Canada’s largest open-pit gold mine is located in the city of Malartic, in Abitibi. It is not only unique because of its size, but also because of its proximity to the urban area. This proximity causes several abnormal annoyances to residents of Malartic, such as excessive dust, noise day and night and vibrations due to blasting which usually takes place twice daily. Between 2011 and 2016, the mine has committed more than 4000 violations of applicable environmental laws and regulations.
Mr. Louis Trottier and Mr Dave Lemire, two residents of Malartic backed by the Comité de citoyens de la zone sud de la voie ferrée de Malartic, represented their fellow citizens in a class action against Canadian Malartic GP (CMGP).
A settlement was reached by the parties in October 2019. In addition to avoiding a long and costly trial, the settlement provides gains for all residents of the south end. According to the terms of this agreement, the residents of the south end of Malartic will be able:
– to take advantage of the compensation program included in the Cohabitation Guide for the compensation periods extending from July 1, 2013 to December 31, 2018, if they are eligible and have not previously taken advantage of this program
– to benefit from a new revitalization program if they own a building or condo in the south end of Malartic, whether or not they are members of the class action. This $1.5 to $1.7 million program is designed to promote home renovation, conservation and enhancement of the built heritage in this sector. The parties hope that this program will improve the quality of life for residents of the south end.
The agreement also has the following advantages:
– the amounts provided for in the Guide’s compensation program cannot be adjusted downward by Canadian Malartic for the compensation periods 2019 to 2021 inclusive (3 years), even if the mine’s environmental performance has improved since the implementation of the Guide in 2016;
– the agreement allows both parties to end three years of legal disputes at no cost to citizens, while avoiding a lengthy four-month trial in 2020.
In her judgment approving the settlement, Judge Marie-Paule Gagnon emphasized that the agreement “allows all the citizens of Malartic to look to the future” and “to envisage a cohabitation marked by greater collaboration between the mine and the citizens of Malartic”.
TJL waived its fees in the class action.