Decision Date: September 7, 2001
Panel: Alan Andison
Keywords: Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act – ss. 41(1), 130(2), 131, 138(2); definition of “forest resources”; Administrative Review and Appeal Procedure Regulation – ss. 2(1), 21; application; party status; intervenor status; standing
The Council of the Haida Nation (the “CHN”) brought an application seeking either party or intervenor status in an appeal launched by the Forest Practices Board regarding the approval of a five-year forest development plan (the “Plan”) covering lands on Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands). The Commission considered whether the same legal test should apply to applications for party status and intervenor status, and whether it should grant the CHN standing in this appeal as either a party or as an intervenor.
The Commission found that the language of the Code clearly distinguishes between parties and intervenors, and the extent to which they may, as a matter of discretion and procedural fairness, be allowed to participate in an appeal hearing. The Commission concluded that in order to be added as a party under section 131(8), the Commission must be satisfied that substantial rights, such as the personal, pecuniary or property rights of a person, may be affected. However, the threshold for intervenor status is lower, requiring that the applicant show they have a valid or genuine “interest” in the appeal, and that their participation will provide assistance to the Commission.
The Commission concluded that the CHN had failed to establish whether, or how, its people relied on the specific areas covered by the Plan or how logging or road building in those areas could affect their people. Further, the CHN failed to indicate how the Commission’s decision in the appeal would affect the Haida people. However, the Commission did find that the Haida people have a genuine interest in the issues under appeal. Particularly, they have an interest in ensuring that forest development plans covering Haida Gwaii comply with the Code, particularly as they relate to sustainable forest use, wildlife conservation, and meeting the needs of First Nations communities on Haida Gwaii. Moreover, the Haida have taken an active interest in forestry issues on Haida Gwaii, and have for several years been negotiating with the provincial government with respect to forest management.
Accordingly, the Commission found that that the CHN has a valid interest in the appeal, and could assist the Commission by providing relevant and unique evidence from one witness, and legal arguments with respect to section 41 of the Code. Therefore, the application for intervenor status was granted. The application for party status was denied.