Decision Date: July 24, 2006
Panel: Alan Andison
Keywords: Coast Appraisal Manual – ss. 18.104.22.168(3), 5.3.4, 22.214.171.124; stumpage advisory notice; bridge width; tabular cost estimates; non-tabular cost estimates; public safety.
Western Forest Products Inc. (“Western”) appealed a Stumpage Advisory Notice (“SAN”) issued for a cutting permit (“CP”) for a tree farm licence in the Campbell River Forest District, Coast Forest Region. The stumpage rate was set at $10.83/m3 for the period of December 8, 2005 and December 31, 2005. This rate was based in part on a tabular assessment of the cost of two bridge replacements.
Western submitted that the cost estimates for the two bridges should have been determined using non-tabular cost estimates because the two bridges were designed as extra-width bridges for reasons of public safety. Western submitted that the stumpage rate should be reduced accordingly. Western submitted that the cost of the bridges at issue should be determined using a non-tabular estimate because section 126.96.36.199(3) of the Coast Appraisal Manual (the “CAM”) states that road reconstruction, which includes bridge replacement, must be made in accordance with section 5.3.4. Section 5.3.4 is entitled “non-tabular cost estimates.” Western further submitted that section 188.8.131.52 of the CAM specifically requires that safety be taken into consideration in the context of bridge reconstruction. Western also sought an order of costs from the Government.
The Government submitted that the correct method for determining the cost estimate for the bridges at issue is tabular. It further submitted that, due to the tabular nature of the determination, no consideration could be given to any other factor, including safety or bridge width, when determining cost estimates. The Government also submitted that the bridges at issue did not need to be extra-width in order to ensure public safety.
The Commission found that, as per sections 184.108.40.206(3) and 5.3.4 of the CAM, the correct method for determining cost estimates for bridge reconstruction is non-tabular. The Ministry erred when it used tabular estimates to determine the cost for the bridge replacements. The Commission further found that, by virtue of section 220.127.116.11 of the CAM, safety is a relevant consideration when determining cost estimates for non-tabular projects. The Commission referred the matter back to the Regional Appraisal Coordinator for reconsideration with directions to consider the non-tabular cost estimates for the bridges and to include public safety as a relevant consideration in arriving at those estimates. The Commission denied Western’s application for costs.
The appeal was allowed.