VICTORIA - Legislative amendments introduced today under Bill 5, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Statutes Amendment Act (2014), will streamline the regulatory framework for the natural resource sector and help improve the stewardship of British Columbia's forests, rangeland and wildlife.
Acting on a commitment in the BC Jobs Plan and a recommendation of the Ranching Task Force to improve regulatory processes for range tenure holders, proposed amendments to the Range Act will:
- streamline the process for approving agreements (permits and licences), so that vacant Crown range can be allocated more quickly and efficiently
- improve business certainty for range operators by allowing longer terms on tenures and conversion of grazing permits issued prior to 2004 to grazing licences
- allow a holder of multiple tenures to more easily consolidate or subdivide those tenures and enable the conversion of grazing leases to grazing licences, providing flexibility for tenure holders to manage their unique business models
- remove the requirement for operators to obtain ministry approval before selling excess hay production
Proposed amendments to the Wildlife Act will act on the government's commitment to provide additional business certainty for the guide outfitting industry by:
- allowing corporations as well as individuals to hold guiding territory certificates, making guide certificate ownership less risky by reducing liability among co-owners and increasing opportunities for individuals to come together to purchase territories
- replacing the licensing requirement for assistant guides with an authorization issued by the employing guide outfitter, giving guide outfitters more flexibility to hire help in unexpected peak periods
Proposed amendments to the Land Title Act provide greater certainty to landowners by clarifying the ownership of subdivided land underwater when it is next to Crown land.
Proposed amendments to the Forest Act include:
- streamlining administrative processes by transferring decision-making authority from cabinet to the minister on most wood residue export applications (wood residue includes wood chips, slabs, edgings, sawdust and shavings, and is mostly used in pulp and paper and bioenergy)
- allowing people to collect firewood from woodlots and community forests, if they have received the proper permission
- clarifying provisions related to collecting annual rent, bonus bids and putting specific conditions on forest licences
Proposed amendments to the Wildfire Act make it clear that the provincial government should not be held legally accountable for unavoidable property damage or losses caused by wildfire, so long as it did not act in bad faith while working to control or suppress those fires. This change is expected to save the provincial government $700,000 to $1.3 million annually in legal costs.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson -
"These legislative amendments are designed to streamline the regulatory framework for the natural resource sector and also provide improved business certainty for companies and individuals. These changes support our government's goals of fostering environmental sustainability while making it easier for British Columbians to contribute to the province's economic prosperity."
Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. -
"The change to allow guide territory certificates to be held by corporations reflects the long-term goal of enhancing business certainty and investor confidence for the guide outfitting industry. Having corporations on the certificate will improve the structure of our sector, enabling growth and providing additional professionalism for the industry. The Wildlife Act change to remove assistant guide licences will substantially reduce 'red tape' for guide outfitters and provide greater flexibility during the hiring season!"
David Haywood-Farmer, president of the B.C. Cattlemen's Association -
"As cattle ranchers, we welcome the proposed amendments to the Range Act. We believe that these changes will reduce the administrative burden for producers and government alike, but the most important benefit will be to the environment and the landscape. The increased security provided by the proposed amendments will allow B.C. ranchers to continue to invest in their longstanding commitment as stewards of the land as they strive to supply British Columbians with some of the best beef in the world."
- B.C.'s cattle producers directly employ about 2,300 people and generate about $351 million of economic activity each year.
- The guide outfitting industry in British Columbia directly employs more than 2,000 people and generates about $116 million of economic activity each year.
To view a copy of the bill and view its progress through debate, visit: http://www.leg.bc.ca/40th2nd/4-4-40-2.htm
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations