Decision Date: July 16, 1999
Panel: Howard Saunders
Keywords: Stumpage reappraisal; Interior Appraisal Manual s. 2.1(4), 3.1(2).
This was an appeal by Woodland from a July 21, 1998 administrative review decision by an acting regional manager, regarding a Stumpage Adjustment Notice (“the Notice”) issued by a district manager of the Ministry of Forests (“MOF”). The acting regional manager directed the district manager and timber pricing coordinator to review the appraisal data, amend inaccuracies and conduct a reappraisal of the stumpage rate in the Notice.
Woodland appealed the review decision on the grounds that the regional manager did not properly exercise his discretion under sections 2.1(4) and 3.1(2) of the Interior Appraisal Manual (“IAM”). It also submitted that the decision did not address the fact that the Mean Value Index was too low and that the Target Rate was too high, or in the alternative, that the Target Rate did not apply to Small Business Sales.
MOF submitted that the acting regional manager exceeded his authority by directing the district manager and timber pricing coordinator to review the appraisal data, amend inaccuracies and conduct a reappraisal, and that the relief sought was not within the purview of the regional manager as these were higher level policy and regulatory decisions of government.
The Board found that s.2.1(4) of the IAM provided the regional manager with the authority and flexibility to reappraise stumpage rates in case of an emergency or in unusual situations not covered in the manual. The Board concluded that none of the events in this appeal were so unusual or urgent that the use of the discretion permitted under s.2.1(4) was warranted. The Board also concluded that the regional manager exceeded his authority in directing a reappraisal prior to the anniversary date. In these circumstances, only the Minister had the power to order a reappraisal prior to the anniversary date.
Regarding section 3.1(2), Woodland noted that its mill only processed small logs, and argued that the provision in its licence stating that it would process pine trees into small boards represented a de facto restriction on the licence. Therefore, Woodland argued, the regional manager should have exercised his discretion under section 3.1(2) of the IAM to use the reduced “Small Log AMVs” in the appraisal. The Board found that where the actual tree volume is over 2.5 times the 0.2 m³ limit, and there is an absence of any average tree volume restrictions in the licence, this was not a “similarly restricted” licence under s.3.1(2) of the IAM, where the regional manager may exercise his discretion.
Woodland argued that the Mean Value Index was too low as a result of excluding Small Business Sales from its calculation. The Board found that the regional manager’s decision properly did not address Woodland’s allegation that the Mean Value Index was too low, in that the regional manager had no authority to deal with the issue. The Board noted that the determination of the Mean Value Index was clearly stated in the IAM and was not within the purview of the regional manager to amend.
Woodland argued that the Target Rate used in Small Business Sales was too high because it included the Forest Renewal Surcharge. The Board found that this argument appeared to refer to the funding arrangement for Forest Renewal B.C., which was not an appraisal issue. The Board found that this was a high-level policy issue and was not within the jurisdiction of the regional manager to amend.
The Board rescinded the determination of the regional manager with respect to his direction to conduct a reappraisal, and dismissed the other issues raised by the Appellant. The appeal was dismissed.