Decision Date: April 12, 2002
Panel: David Ormerod
Keywords: Forest Act (R.S.B.C. 1979, c.140) – ss. 138; 138.1; 139; trespass; unreasonable delay; timber harvesting
Laurie Parker appealed a Review Panel decision that upheld the District Manager’s determination that Mr. Parker had contravened section 138(1) of the Forest Act by cutting 98 cubic metres of Crown timber without authorization. The Review Panel also upheld the penalty of $8,192.96 assessed by the District Manager. The unauthorized harvesting had occurred in 1993, was discovered by the Ministry of Forests in 1994, and was the subject of a criminal investigation until 1996. In March 1997, the District Manager held a hearing to determine whether an administrative penalty should be levied, and he issued his decision in June 1999.
The Commission first considered whether there had been an unreasonable delay in the proceedings leading to the appeal. The Commission found that no explanation was provided for the delay between the hearing before the District Manager and the issuance of his decision. However, the Commission found that Mr. Parker had not suffered any prejudice as a result of any delays that occurred in the proceedings that led to the appeal, and that he had contributed to the protraction of the review proceedings by failing to file evidence or participate in scheduled discussions.
The Commission next considered whether Mr. Parker was responsible for the harvesting in this case. Mr. Parker admitted responsibility for part of the area that was unlawfully harvested, but submitted that someone else was responsible for the remainder. The Commission found, on a balance of probabilities, that Mr. Parker was wholly responsible. The Commission found that Mr. Parker had provided no credible proof that someone else was partially responsible for the contravention. However, the Commission noted that the District Manager made a numerical error in calculating the penalty, and concluded that the correct penalty was $8,016.56.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.