Reflective Windows Attract Lawsuit
Two independent environmenal organizations, Ontario Nature and Ecojustice, were in court recently for a lawsuit launched last March which is a private prosecution against Menkes Development, the owner of a Scarborough, Ontario office building called Consilium Place. The building complex is comprised of three towers which were constructed using reflective window surfaces which mirror the nearby trees and sky.
According to the group FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program), over one million birds are killed in collisions with building windows each year in Toronto. Reflective windows present the illusion of sky to migratory birds. Flying at high speeds, the birds do not realize their mistake until they fly into the window, which can result in injuries, shock, or death. The lawsuit attributes the death or injury of approximately 800 birds over the span of nine months to window surfaces used at Consilium Place.
The case has recently resumed in court. Albert Koehl, the lawyer working for Ecojustice, contends that the windows are discharging reflective light which is causing injury and death to migratory birds, which is in violation of Section 14 of the Ontario Environmental Protection Act, which states that a person can’t discharge a contaminant if it causes an adverse effect.
The maximum fine under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act is $6 million per day for a first offence. The companies are also charged under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for causing birds to be in distress, which carries a maximum fine of $60,000. To retrofit its three buildings in Scarborough, Menkes would pay an approximate cost of $30,000 each. While it is uncertain whether or not the case will be successful, supporters are hopeful that the public will at least see increased attention to the plight of migratory birds.
Ecojustice is a Canadian non-profit organization devoted to protecting the environment through the law. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters and 140 member groups across Ontario. Ontario Nature’s mandate is to protect wildlife and habitat through conservation, education and public engagement.