Enforcement streamlined for natural resource acts

The Natural Resource Compliance Act is now in effect, making it easier for compliance and enforcement officers to hold offenders accountable

VICTORIA – The Natural Resource Compliance Act, introduced in fall 2011, is now in effect, making it easier for compliance and enforcement officers to hold offenders accountable for violating natural resource legislation.

“The Natural Resource Compliance Act builds on government’s vision of an integrated approach to land-based management and expands the work we’ve already done to streamline our inspection and enforcement procedures,” said Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.

“Natural resource officers can now enforce a wider range of regulations and improve our response in the field.”

The act establishes a new designation – natural resource officer – and authorizes ministry personnel to enforce a broader range of legislation across the natural resource sector. Compliance and enforcement officers can enforce only those acts that they are specifically designated to uphold, but now there is a single, streamlined process for making those designations.

Implementing this single-designation process means that staff will be able to take action more quickly and efficiently to deal with violations that span more than one natural resource act. A single natural resource officer can now respond to such incidents, instead of the three or four staff that may have been required previously.

Officials from other areas of government, such as BC Parks staff, will also be able to assist in enforcing Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations legislation, resulting in better on-the-ground coverage.

Concurrently, amendments have been made to the Special Accounts Appropriation and Control Act and the environmental remediation sub-account. These changes make it easier for ministry staff to allocate funding for complex investigations or cover environmental remediation costs for infractions in the natural resource sector.

The Natural Resource Compliance Act applies to identified acts in the natural resource sector, such as the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Forest Act, the Wildfire Act, the Wildlife Act, the Park Act and the Water Act. Additional acts may be added over time.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations currently has 172 compliance and enforcement officers, of which 155 are dedicated to carrying out inspections and investigations.

More than 11,000 inspections are completed each year, covering various provisions within the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ mandate.

– Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations