Decision Date: August 19, 2021
Panel: David Bird
Keywords: Forest and Range Practices Act – ss. 46(1.1), 52(1) and 57(1); Administrative Tribunals Act – s. 16; contravention; remediation order; administrative penalty; treaty rights; consent order
Blueberry River First Nations (“BRFN”) and Blueberry River Enterprises (collectively, the “Appellants”) appealed a decision issued by the District Manager of the Prince George Natural Resource District, within the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. The decision arose from the following circumstances.
The BRFN are signatories to Treaty 8, which provides them with certain rights including rights to hunt, trap, and fish within their traditional territory. The BRFN own the Pink Mountain Ranch and use it for camping and as a base for hunting and preserving game. The BRFN also practice traditional treaty rights at a site called Horse Camp, located on Crown land approximately 23 kilometres west of Pink Mountain Ranch along the Halfway River Trail. In addition, BRFN has an interest in a guide outfitter territory that covers the area where Horse Camp and Pink Mountain Ranch are located.
In December 2015, several BRFN members used heavy equipment to blade approximately 43 km of the Halfway River Trail and areas adjacent to the Trail starting at Pink Mountain Ranch, to create two new trails and nine clearings in preparation for cabin construction. In doing so, they disturbed and damaged soils, trees, and other vegetation on Crown land, and crossed streams with heavy equipment. BRFN had no authorization under the FRPA to clear or widen the Halfway River Trail, make new trails and clearings, or to remove or destroy Crown timber.
The District Manager determined that, as a result of those activities, the Appellants contravened sections 46(1.1), 52(1) and 57(1) of the Forest and Range Practices Act (the “FRPA”). The District Manager levied a $200 penalty for each contravention, for a total penalty of $600. The District Manager also issued a remediation order to the Appellants.
The Appellants appealed the District Manager’s decision. Before the appeal was heard, the parties agreed to resolve the issues in the appeal.
First, in a consent order dated March 4, 2021 (Decision No. 2019-FRP-001(a)), the Government agreed not to pursue the remediation order. Accordingly, the Commission rescinded the remediation order. Second, in a consent order dated August 19, 2021 (Decision No. 2019-FRP-001(b)), the Government agreed not to pursue the contraventions and the associated penalties. Accordingly, the Commission rescinded the contravention determination and the penalties.
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.