Regulatory Reform

The Process

The BCCFR contributed to the BC government’s 2017-2018 Professional Reliance Review. Our submission is here: PR Review Submission

The PR Review Final Report was released to the public on June 28, 2018. It is available here: PR Review Final Report

The PR review’s summary of stakeholder contributions (called the Engagement Summary) is available here: Engagement Summary

We are now waiting for the provincial government to take action on implementing the recommendations of the Final Report.

What the Final Report Says

The Final Report’s 137 pages confirms the experience of BCCFR members. Below are just a few examples:

Page 63 of the Final Report:
“Conflicts of interest were identified as a major issue in this review by government, professionals, Indigenous governments and communities, and stakeholders.”

Page 107, Final Report:
“The Government Actions Regulation (GAR) is an important feature of the FRPA regime because it allows the minister to make orders (GAR orders) to protect non-timber values…”
“…while similar legislation would typically grant the minister broad discretionary authority to make these orders, GAR limits the minister’s discretion by requiring strict legal tests to be met before it can be exercised. ”
“Ministry staff advised this review that these limitations have hampered considerably the effectiveness of this regulation due to disagreements between government and the forest industry over the legal meaning of these clauses”

Page 29 of Engagement Summary:
“Calls for increased transparency focused on access to information and inclusion in the decision-making process as it pertains to the natural resources sector.”
“Allow the public to participate fully in decisions, [provide] easy access to information about environmental and health decisions, including access to reports prepared by industry-hired professionals.” (representative statement taken from citizen submissions)

Page 96 of Final Report:
“The Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) is a somewhat unique approach to professional reliance; rather than directly relying on professionals, it places obligations on tenure holders…”
“Government’s reliance on forest tenure holders is much higher than in other natural resource legislation, primarily due to four factors:
– Limitations on the information submitted to government;
– Limitations on the discretionary authority of decision makers when approving plans and making orders;
– Elimination of approvals for cutblocks and forest roads; and
– The extent to which a tenure holder retains professional services for its operations, and accepts the opinions and recommendations of those professionals.”
“The Forest Practices Board has seen situations where forestry development was putting environmental and community values at risk, yet district managers could do little to affect the development and protect the public interest.”

Page 96 of Final Report:
“The Forest Practices Board has seen situations where forestry development was putting environmental and community values at risk, yet district managers could do little to affect the development and protect the public interest.”

Page 106 of Final Report:
“In its submission to this review the Forest Practices Board commented: ‘there is ambiguity about what responsibility individual professionals have when more than one licensee operates on the same landbase. Under the current legislative framework, one licensee may design access and harvesting to achieve certain results, including retention of wildlife habitat, only to have a subsequent licensee undermine these results by harvesting the retention areas. The Board has seen numerous examples of this.’
The situations described by the Board occur in part because of the lack of Ministry authority over forest operations discussed above. The Ministry has for many years tried to address these issues by developing a Cumulative Effects Framework. However, implementation of the framework requires greater government authority, greater willingness to use existing tools (such as objectives set by government), and commitment to land use planning.

Page 98 of Final Report:
“Some input received from professionals questioned whether the 11 FRPA values represent the full suite of objectives that should be managed for. They ask, for example, whether there should be specific objectives to protect communities from risk of wildfire, because strategies to manage that risk on provincial Crown land surrounding the communities are not necessarily carried out by tenure holders if the activity is not economic or does not meet their business needs.”

What the Final Report Recommends

We compared the recommendations contained in our submission to the PR Review against the recommendations of the Final Report. We are encouraged that the majority of our concerns have been recognized and either wholly or partially addressed by the recommendations of the Final Report.

The BCCFR’s mission and focus is to give BC’s rural communities greater input and control over how forestry planning, management, and harvesting impacts the local environment, economy, and lifestyle. In the following analysis, for each BCCFR recommendations we list the corresponding recommendations from the Final Report. Recommendations we consider critical for immediate implementation are highlighted in green.  

BCCFR Recommendation #1: Forest development must be managed according to publicly available, long-term, landscape-level planning, to include a mandatory shared decision-making process with local communities.

R22. Improve opportunities for addressing third party concerns and dispute resolution.
R24. Modernize land use planning in partnership with Indigenous governments and communities.
R25. Develop means to address capacity to engage in resource management processes.
R26. Consider engaging Indigenous governments and communities in compliance and enforcement.
R29. Include the public in processes that address natural resource management objectives and land use.
R30. Improve public notification systems.
R85. Improve forest stewardship plan content
R86. Require submission and approval of site plans

BCCFR Recommendation #2: Full recognition of the timber and non-timber values of our forests including water, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, tourism, and recreation.

R8.Restore and clarify government authority to make resource management and environmental protection decisions.
R28. Make natural resource information more consistently available.
R33. Identify opportunities to improve the quality of natural resource information to help improve professional reliance outcomes.
R87. Enhance decision maker authority by amending the approval test to include consideration of government’s objectives, Indigenous governments and communities’ interests, other rights holders (Crown tenure holders and landowners) and the public interest.
R88. Improve objectives.
R89. Improve minister’s authority to make GAR Orders: review the limitations on the minister’s authority to make orders to protect non-timber values.

BCCFR Recommendation #3: The restoration of clear government discretionary powers with regard to approval of logging plans and practices, including an improved Forest Practices Code and accompanying guidelines.

R5. Review regulations and authorizations to ensure that government’s resource management objectives are adequately expressed and made known to professionals. … The need for clear objectives is more pronounced for broadly based resource activities such as forestry.
R10. Ensure that government has authority to address problems when they arise.
R11. Review regulations, authorizations, Ministry policies and professional codes of ethics to ensure that conflicts of interest are properly disclosed and addressed.
R92. Remove compliance certification by professionals.
R93. Professional Certifications and Assurance Statements
R94. Initiate a review of professional reliance in timber pricing and measurement
R112. Improve accountability to government: Provide provincial authority to reject riparian assessments that do not follow the prescribed methodology, are carried out by unqualified individuals, or where the professional’s opinion concerning the streamside protection and enhancement area is not supported by the facts or adequately justified.

BCCFR Recommendation #4: Full recognition and guidance of forestry planning on the basis of scientific data. Full recognition, for example, of global warming and adjustment of forest policies accordingly.

R3. Review regulations and authorizations to ensure that competency requirements are aligned with the professional task or function.
R4. Government and professional organizations should collaborate to develop ways and means of addressing the need for specialized expertise within a profession. …specialist designations within a profession … certification by government agencies … specifying credentials in the regulation … Ministry approval of the professional qualifications prior to work commencing…
R6. Government and professional organizations should collaborate to identify opportunities and prioritize needs for developing guidance to professionals through practice standards and guidelines. … clarify expectations and enhance enforcement.
R7. Government should provide greater guidance concerning activities that require multi- disciplinary expertise. … more than one type of expertise to inform sound decision-making. … [prevent] questionable opinions from professionals who are actually unqualified even though they might meet the generic legal requirements of the definition of qualified professional in the regulation.
R9. Ensure that regulations and authorizations include authority to obtain and question information provided by qualified professionals (or a proponent), so agencies can carry out their regulatory role appropriately.
R12. Identify ways to promote and ensure professional independence.
R13. Expand requirements for proponent adherence to professional advice.
R14. Consider alternatives to proponent selection of professional experts.
R15. Improve and standardize requirements for professional documentation and rationale.
R16. Expand the use of professional certifications and assurance statements.
R17. Introduce requirements to ensure that professional work is current and relevant.
R90. Improve documentation and rationale: … forest plans should include a systematic, transparent and well- documented decision-making process that shows appropriate consideration of the potential impacts of harvesting, silviculture systems and roads to public and third-party interests, including documentation of the professional advice received and how it was considered.
R91. Clarify professional tasks and qualifications: given the multidisciplinary nature and forest resource management, the regulation should specify the qualifications required for certain professional tasks.

BCCFR Recommendation #5: A vigilant monitoring system, well budgeted and independent of industry control, with particular attention given to riparian zones and roads.

R1.Establish an independent Office of Professional Regulation and Oversight:
Consider establishing an Office of Professional Regulation and Oversight (the “Office”), which would be an agent of government focused on professional organization governance issues and independent from natural resource sector ministries. … Be an agent of government, independent of oversight from natural resource ministries.
R2. Legislate critical elements of professional governance …
Ensuring that professional organization duties and objects are focused on regulation of the profession and the public interest, and do not include advocacy or representation of member interests;
R18. Develop auditing programs for professional work product.
R20. Improve accountability through new liability mechanisms.
R21. Strengthen monitoring programs and consider new partnerships to enhance monitoring efforts.
R31. Establish an independent review body for natural resource practices and decisions.
R32. Standardize standing rules for appeal tribunals to allow for greater public access to remedies.
R113. Qualifications of professionals: Revise the overly broad definition of “qualified environmental professional”
R115. Clarify riparian objectives:

BCCFR Recommendation #6: Staffing levels and budgets adequate to support the proposed changes.

R23. Reinforce the importance of compliance and enforcement. … Compliance and enforcement (C & E) is a significant topic in its own right, and may warrant a separate review process. Interviews with Ministry subject matter experts point to significant capacity issues for some business areas …
R34. Identify opportunities to improve Ministry staffing levels and resources to enhance government oversight.