On November 14, 2011, Bill 9, the Natural Resource Compliance
Act (the "Act"), received royal assent in British
Columbia. The Act can now be brought into force in BC by way of
The purpose of the Act is to make it easier for compliance and
enforcement officers to hold offenders accountable for violating
natural resource legislation. To accomplish this goal, the Act
authorizes the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource
Operations (the "Minister") to designate individuals or
groups of people as "natural resource officers"
("NROs") and to specify the duties and powers of these
NROs. At present, enforcement officers have the authority to
enforce only the specific statute under which they are designated.
Under the Act, however, NROs will have the authority to enforce a
broad range of natural resource legislation. The Minister's
intention is that NROs will allow for faster and more efficient
responses to violations that span numerous natural resource
statutes, since only one officer will need to respond. Although the
Act can apply to any prescribed enactment in the natural resource
sector, the exact scope of the Act remains unclear. The Minister
has expressed that the Act is intended, at least initially, to
apply only to the statutes that are under the purview of the
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Such
statutes include the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Forest
Act, the Wildfire Act, the Wildlife Act, and the Water Act.
The Minister has stated that, in order for the Act to apply to
the statutes under the scope of other ministries, "significant
consultation" with those ministries will be required to
determine whether or not there is a need for the type of
enforcement provided by NROs in those natural resource sectors.
Further uncertainty arises with respect to the scope of powers and
duties of NROs, as there have yet to be any regulations passed
under the Act.
Notwithstanding the uncertainties discussed above, it is clear
that, once brought into force, the Act is intended to create a more
responsive form of enforcement in the forestry sector in B.C.
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