Decision Date: August 14, 2020
Panel: Darrell Le Houillier
Keywords: Wildfire Act – ss. 6(1), 10(4); Wildfire Regulation – ss. 22(2), 22(3); Administrative Tribunals Act – ss. 34(3)(b); cost recovery order; contravention; penalty; document disclosure application
Tolko Industries Ltd. (“Tolko”) appealed a decision that it had contravened the Wildfire Act and the Wildfire Regulation, and had to pay an administrative penalty, the cost of the government’s fire control costs, the value of damaged or destroyed Crown resources, and reforestation costs.
In late 2015 and early 2016, Tolko was doing work in the Quesnel Forest District and the Cariboo-Chilcotin Forest District. This work included having a contractor burn debris piles. The burns were authorized by permits. In April 2016, four wildfires occurred in those regions.
The Deputy Fire Centre Manager (the “Manager”) of the Coastal Fire Centre, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (the “Ministry”), determined that the wildfires were caused by the open burning of debris by Tolko’s contractor. The Manager found that Tolko had contravened sections 6(1) and 10(4) of the Wildfire Act and sections 22(2) and 22(3) of the Wildfire Regulation. The Manager ordered Tolko to pay a $15,000 administrative penalty, cost recovery of $343,495.20 for the government’s fire control costs, $84,937 for damaged or destroyed Crown resources, and $46,223 for reforestation costs.
Tolko appealed the Manager’s decision. Tolko appealed on numerous grounds.
After filing its appeal, Tolko asked to amend it Notice of Appeal by adding additional grounds of appeal. Tolko also applied to the Commission for an order requiring the Ministry to disclose certain categories of documents before the hearing of the appeal commenced.
Given that the Manager did not oppose Tolko’s request to amend it Notice of Appeal, the Commission granted that request.
Next, the Commission considered whether to grant the order for document disclosure. The main issue was whether the requested categories of documents may be relevant to proving, or responding to, an issue in the appeal. The Commission found that some, but not all, of the requested documents were relevant. Both parties agreed that some of the documents may be redacted to remove sensitive information. Consequently, the Commission ordered the disclosure of some, but not all, of the requested categories of documents, subject to the redaction of certain sensitive information.
Accordingly, the application for document disclosure was allowed, in part.