Decision Date: May 27, 2004
Panel: James S. Hackett
Keywords: Forest Act – s. 105, 146; stumpage rate; salvage operations; Interior Appraisal Manual; Ministry of Forests’ Resource Management Policy Manual.
Green Mountain Ranch Co. Ltd. (the “Company”) appealed stumpage advisory and stumpage adjustment notices from the Ministry of Forests (“MOF”) that set out the stumpage rate applicable to a cutting permit under a Woodlot Licence. The notices were issued in January 2004 for salvage cutting permitted from November 1, 2003 to October 31, 2004. The Company appealed the determination on the grounds that it inadvertently failed to lock in the stumpage rate in 2003, and that MOF’s failure to deliver the notices in a timely manner prevented the Company from protecting itself from rate increases.
The Company sought to have the stumpage rate fixed at the November 2003 rate of $2.15 per cubic metre for all timber harvested under the cutting permit.
The Company argued that a provision in the MOF’s Resource Management Policy Manual (the “Policy Manual”) on timely notice of stumpage rates is a policy approved by the Minister of Forests for the purposes of section 105(1) of the Forest Act, such that late delivery of the advisory and adjustment notices renders them ineffective and entitles the Company to lock in at the stumpage rates applicable to the cutting permit in November 2003.
The Commission found that the Policy Manual is not a policy approved by the Minister that must be applied by MOF officials in determining stumpage rates under section 105. The Commission also found that the policy on timelines set out in the Policy Manual is not incorporated by reference into the Interior Appraisal Manual or section 105(1) of the Forest Act. As a result, the late delivery of the notices did not constitute a breach of MOF’s statutory obligations or a basis for declaring the advisory and adjustment notices ineffective. The Commission noted that the Company acknowledged it was aware in November 2003 that stumpage rates were likely to rise in January 2004. The Commission found that the Company could have elected to fix its stumpage rate at November 2003 levels by notifying MOF, and its failure to do so was not the responsibility of MOF.
The appeal was dismissed.