Decision Date: July 24, 2019
Panel: Alan Andison
Keywords: Forest and Range Practices Act – ss. 57(1), 112(3); unauthorized construction; recreation facility; administrative penalty; consent order
Guy A. Maris appealed a determination issued in March 2019 by the District Manager (the “Manager”), Okanagan Shuswap Natural Resource District, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (the “Ministry”). The Manager determined that Mr. Maris contravened sections 57(1) and 112(3) of the Forest and Range Practices Act (the “Act”), by restoring an old fire look-out cabin located on Crown land without authorization, and failing to comply with a stop work order. The Manager levied administrative penalties totalling $20,000 against Mr. Maris for the two contraventions.
Mr. Maris appealed the determination. He requested that the determination be rescinded, or alternatively, the penalties be reduced or eliminated. He submitted that an acquaintance had inquired with the Ministry in 2008 about restoring the fire look-out cabin, which was built in 1922 and had fallen into disrepair, and his understanding was that no further authorization was needed to undertake the restoration. Subsequently, an ad hoc group of volunteers including Mr. Maris raised $30,000 to complete the restoration. Restoration work was undertaken during 2016 and 2017. Mr. Maris was one of the leaders of the group undertaking the restoration work. No authorization was obtained from the Ministry. In September 2017, the Ministry issued a stop work order, but a copy was not sent to Mr. Maris. In October 2017, Mr. Maris observed people placing furniture in the restored building.
Before the Commission heard the appeal, the parties negotiated an agreement to resolve the matter. By consent of the parties, the Commission confirmed the contraventions of section 57(1) and 112(3) of the Act, but varied the penalties by reducing them to $7,500 and $2,000, respectively.
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed, in part.