Decision Date: September 25, 1998
Panel: Carol Roberts, Kristen Eirikson, Howard Saunders
Keywords: Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act – s. 70(4)(d); Silviculture Practices Regulation – s. 17(1)(b); officially induced error; estoppel; Atco Lumber Ltd. v. Government of B.C. (Forest Appeals Commission, Appeal No. 1997-FOR-04, January 8, 1998).
J.S. Jones Holdings Ltd. (“J.S. Jones”) appealed a Review Panel decision upholding a determination respecting three contraventions on two cutblocks. On Block 999-E, the Review Panel found that J.S. Jones failed to meet a regeneration deadline under the Code, and failed to complete a survey by the regeneration date under the Silviculture Practices Regulation. On Block 25-45, the Review Panel found that the Appellant failed to meet the regeneration deadline under the Code. A $750 penalty was assessed for each Code contravention; no penalty was assessed for the contravention of the Regulation.
Regarding Block 999-E, the Appellant argued that the penalty should be rescinded or varied because the Ministry of Forests (the “Ministry”) had agreed that J.S. Jones need not apply for an amendment postponing the regeneration date until Ministry maps of the area were completed. The Commission concluded that the Ministry neither expressly nor impliedly advised J.S. Jones not to apply for an amendment for Block 999-E until the maps were ready. Further, the lack of accurate maps did not preclude the Appellant from filing an amendment application before the regeneration deadline.
J.S. Jones also argued that the contravention for failing to complete a survey by the required date should be rescinded as, historically, the Ministry had allowed surveys to be submitted after regeneration deadlines. The Commission found there was no evidence that the District allowed such deadlines to be disregarded since the introduction of the Code and that, even if there had been a historical pattern of non-enforcement, J.S. Jones had been given sufficient notice that it had to comply with the specified time deadlines.
Regarding Block 25-45, J.S. Jones argued that it had met and maintained the stocking requirements specified in the PHSP, or alternatively, that it was reasonable to rely on natural regeneration in the block. The Commission held that the Appellant did not meet or maintain the stocking requirements and that, even if the Appellant expected natural regeneration to achieve the stocking requirement, given the information available at the time, it was not reasonable to rely on that method. The Commission also found that there is no obligation on the Ministry to express urgency with respect to re-establishing the minimum number of trees: the obligation of meeting the Code requirements is on the licensee.
The Commission upheld the determination and Review Panel decision, including the penalty amounts. The appeal was dismissed.