Keywords:Forest Practices Code of B.C. Act – ss. 96(1), 117(4), 119; beachcombing; unauthorized harvest; appropriate penalty; standard of proof; warning ticket.
This was an appeal brought by Klaus Orleans from a determination by the District Manager, as varied in a review decision. The District Manager found that Mr. Orleans had contravened section 96(1) of the Code by harvesting a spruce log from Crown land without authority, and imposed a penalty of $1 824.08. On review, the contravention was confirmed but the penalty reduced to $1 582.84.
The Commission found that, on a balance of probabilities, Mr. Orleans was responsible for the unauthorized cutting of the Crown timber. While the evidence was circumstantial, it was strong in this case. Mr. Orleans admitted to beachcombing in the relevant area at the relevant time, did not dispute that the seized wood was his property, or that he was in possession of wood that matched the remainder of the log from which wood was cut without authorization. Mr. Orleans provided no credible explanation of how he came into possession of the wood.
Mr. Orleans also argued that the penalty was excessive, and that the market value of the wood should be calculated based on a selling price of $80/m3. The Commission found that while the gravity of the contravention was relatively minor and not repetitive, it was deliberate and Mr. Orleans continued to deny the contravention. The Commission therefore agreed with the District Manager that the penalty should remove the economic benefit and act as a deterrent. Accordingly, it was appropriate to impose a penalty that may have exceeded the actual sale price of the logs, but which reflected the average market value of the logs at the time of sale. The penalty, as amended on review, was upheld.