Keywords:Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act – s. 96(1); beachcombing; unauthorized timber harvesting
Mr. Therrien appealed the District Manager’s determination that he contravened section 96(1) of the Forest Practices Code by cutting Crown timber without authorization while beachcombing. The District Manager’s determination and penalty were upheld by a Review Panel. Mr. Therrien sought an order rescinding the determination, or, in the alternative, a determination that the $20,000 penalty was excessive.
Mr. Therrien argued that to be found liable for a section 96(1) breach, the Government must prove on a balance of probabilities that a person cut, damaged or destroyed Crown timber. Mr. Therrien argued that although he was found in possession of the timber, this was not sufficient to find a section 96(1) contravention.
The Commission found that the issue in this appeal was very similar to William Hollis v. Government of British Columbia and Forest Practices Board (Forest Appeals Commission, Appeal No. 1997-FOR-013). The Commission followed the reasoning in Hollis and found that although the evidence against Mr. Therrien was mostly circumstantial, there was compelling physical evidence linking Mr. Therrien to the Crown timber that was harvested illegally. Further, the Commission found that, absent a credible explanation from Mr. Therrien as to how he came to possess the timber, it is more likely than not that he contravened section 96(1).
Mr. Therrien did not provide any evidence or make any legal argument in regards to the $20,000 penalty. Therefore, the Commission upheld the District Manager’s determination and the penalty.