News: Animal group cashes in

Published in the August 15th issue of The Edmonton Sun. News

Animal group cashes in

Edmonton Sun

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton has a new home thanks to money collected from CN after an oil spill at Lake Wabamun five years ago.

The wildlife society, which cares for injured, contaminated and orphaned wildlife, moved from its former Ellerslie-area research park location to a new, larger site in Parkland County near Spruce Grove earlier this week.

The group received $600,000 from creative sentencing fines charged to CN last year, after a CN train derailed and dumped nearly 800,000 litres of oil and chemicals into Lake Wabamun in 2005.

“We got the money through the federal court for the Wabamun oil spill,” said Caroline Barlott with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (WRS).

“We got it because we were part of the leadership washing the oiled birds in the Wabamun area.”

CN was dinged $1.4 million in fines following the Aug. 3, 2005 incident, 65 km west of Edmonton.

The spill from 43 rail cars killed hundreds of birds and fish and polluted beaches, damaging the environment and leading to the creative sentences.

“If you destroy a wetland… caused harm to the environment, how do (you) make it up to the environment?” said Susan McRory, environmental coordinator of regularly prosecutions with Alberta Justice.

“It’s hard to come up with restitution, but some of the (creative sentencing) orders try to do exactly like that.”

The WRS is building two outdoor pens for hawk owls and song birds on the new 16-acre site. Officials say they eventually want a dozen pens.

“The new location offers us the chance to have a facility which is really specific to the needs of our animals,” Barlott said. “The money was really important for us and was really needed.”

Of the $600,000 payout, $420,000 is earmarked for capital costs, while $180,000 will go to run the new facility.

McRory said the creative sentencing penalty in the CN oil spill case is the biggest creative sentencing fine to date in Alberta.

In June, Syncrude Canada was found guilty on both provincial and federal charges of failing to prevent 1,600 ducks from dying in the Aurora Tailings pond in April 2008.

The decision on whether to convict the company on one or both charges was put over until Aug. 20.

The WRS is the only wildlife shelter in the Edmonton area and in northern Alberta and treats over 1,000 wildlife each year.

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