Keywords:Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act – s. 134; Change of venue; Forest Development Plan.
This was an application by the Council of the Haida Nation to have the Forest Appeals Commission change the location of the hearing of this appeal from Victoria to the Queen Charlotte Islands (a.k.a. Haida Gwaii). While the Council of the Haida Nation was not a party to the appeal, the Forest Practices Board supported the application; the Husby Group of Companies and the Respondent objected to the proposed change.
The Commission found that the factors weighed in favour of the hearing being held on the Queen Charlotte Islands. The forest development plan at issue in the appeal involves lands on the Queen Charlotte Islands, the persons most affected this plan reside on the Queen Charlotte Islands, and the Respondent and Husby Group of Companies maintain operations and offices on the Queen Charlotte Islands. Further, the location of the parties’ counsel is not a relevant consideration. While persons in other parts of British Columbia may also be interested in the hearing, the local public must be given priority over members of the public in the rest of the province. Just as it would be unfair for a hearing involving resource decisions on Vancouver Island to be held on the Queen Charlotte Islands, so it would be unfair for such a hearing involving the Queen Charlotte Islands to be held on Vancouver Island.
The application for a change of venue was granted.