Keywords:Forest Act – s. 138, 139; trespass billing; stay of Criminal Code charges; joint billing; procedural fairness.
Paul Anthony Long appealed an administrative review, which confirmed a determination of unauthorised harvesting of Crown timber contrary to section 138 of the Forest Act. Mr. Long was levied a trespass billing of $1,504.04 to compensate the Crown for the loss of the timber values and the costs in determining the loss. Mr. Long argued that, because a criminal charge over the matter was stayed, the Ministry should not have made the determination against him. He also argued that he did not cut or damage any timber or remove any shake blocks, he was just found in the presence of the trees and blocks, and that the trespass stumpage and scaling fee billing was excessive.
The Board found that the stay in proceedings for the charges laid under the Criminal Code did not preclude the Ministry from pursuing administrative penalties under the Forest Act. In addition, the Board did not find Mr. Long’s evidence to be credible and was satisfied on a balance of probabilities that he did contravene the Forest Act; he was found in possession of the trees and blocks, with tools to make shakes, and admitted in a statement that he intended to remove the blocks. As for the trespass billing, the Board found that the Ministry was deficient in assessing the trespass billing. It found that the Ministry could not convert the original joint billing (which was billed to Mr. Long and an additional individual) to separate billings of the same amount. Further, the Board found that the Ministry had erred in calculating the penalty by underestimating the quantity of timber and in using a lower stumpage price than was appropriate for shingle cedar timber sales. The Board reassessed the penalty to double the amount and ordered Mr. Long to pay half, including the interest dating back to August 13, 1996. The Board dismissed the appeal.