Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
VICTORIA – Legislative amendments introduced recently will increase fibre supply for forest product manufacturers and enable wildlife-related licensing and permitting activities to be moved online.
Acting on commitments in Minister Steve Thomson’s July 2015 mandate letter, proposed amendments to the Forest Act continue implementation of recommendations from the BC Timber Sales Effectiveness Review and help provide security to users of residual fibre, such as pellet producers, in the province’s Interior.
“These legislative amendments provide increased certainty for B.C.’s timber and wood fibre supply,” Thomson said. “Amendments to the Wildlife Act will support future moves to e-licensing and strengthen our compliance and enforcement tools to respond to those who choose to break our fish and wildlife laws.”
Specifically, proposed amendments to the Forest Act would:
• Provide the Province with additional tools to more effectively balance its objective for greater community and First Nations direct involvement in the forest sector, with the need to ensure that BC Timber Sales has access to a sufficient supply of timber to provide credible cost and price benchmarks for B.C.’s timber pricing system.
• Support economic opportunities for communities throughout the province by increasing fibre supply through allowing the expansion of existing community forest agreements.
• Support the management and sustainability of timber supplies by providing the chief forester and minister with improved tools to set, change, and enforce allowable annual cut partitions for specific timber types, profiles and areas.
• Improve residual fibre use through increased certainty of fibre supply for primary and secondary harvesters in their operational planning.
Meanwhile proposed amendments to the Wildlife Act would:
• Remove legislative barriers to, and facilitate e-licensing. Initially, these amendments will support the new e-licensing system for hunters – which will allow hunters to apply for licences, complete compulsory reporting requirements and make payments online. Over time, other fish and wildlife related permits will be able to move online.
• Streamline administrative requirements for guide-outfitters by allowing an agent of a guide-outfitter to submit a guide report.
• Strengthen compliance and enforcement tools by allowing for fines and tickets for first time offenders that are more in line with the nature of the offence, instead of requiring court convictions for fines. For example, the mandatory penalty of $2,500 for knowingly making a false statement to obtain a licence or permit needs to be set through the courts.
The proposed amendments will come into force by enabling regulations within the next year. If the amendment passes, the Violation Ticket Fine and Administration Regulation will be updated to include ticket fines.
Amendments to both the Forest Act and Wildlife Act are part of Bill 12, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Statutes Amendment Act (2016).