Decision Date: August 9, 2001
Panel: Lorraine Shore
Keywords: Forest Act – ss. 78(0.1), 78(1); small business forest enterprise; failure to comply with TSL; disqualification; extenuating circumstances.
This was an appeal by Valley Tree Services Ltd. (“Valley”) of a Review Panel decision which confirmed the decision of a District Manager (“DM”) in the Chilliwack Forest District, that Valley failed to perform an obligation in Timber Sale License A56048 (“TSL”) to harvest timber in a cutblock. Consequently, the DM directed the forfeiture of Valley’s security deposit of $1,182.22, and imposed a one-year disqualification period as a small business forest enterprise registrant. Valley sought an order rescinding the imposition of the disqualification period.
Valley argued that the one-year disqualification was excessive. It submitted that it had been unable to commence harvesting due to extenuating market circumstances, and that a six-month disqualification was more appropriate and would be consistent with a previous decision in another District against another operator. It argued that it made a genuine effort to harvest the timber, but market prices made it unprofitable to do so.
The Ministry submitted that it based its decision on a District policy, which states that there will be no disqualification period in extenuating circumstances. In the absence of extenuating circumstances, the disqualification period is one-year for a first violation and two-years for a second. In this case, the Ministry determined that there were no extenuating circumstances.
There was no dispute that Valley failed to perform an obligation in the TSL when it failed to harvest the timer. Therefore, the Commission found that a disqualification period was appropriate.
The Commission then considered the appropriateness of the penalty. The Commission found that the one-year disqualification period was somewhat excessive in the circumstances. The Commission varied the decision and substituted an 8-month disqualification period.
The appeal was allowed in part.