In the recent case of R. v. Northland Properties
Corporation, the B.C. Supreme Court upheld fines and penalties
of $140,000 in connection with destruction of fish habitat as a
result of work completed at a family-owned cabin on Kamloops
Lake. These fines and penalties were in addition to the
$85,000 in remediation costs already incurred by the accused.
The Crown had appealed the sentence asking for greater fines
and penalties (totalling $300,000) based on the seriousness of the
environmental offences. Although the B.C. Supreme Court rejected
the Crown’s appeal, thereby upholding the original fines and
penalties of $140,000, this case suggests that the Crown is
currently very willing to seek high fines and penalties against
even recreational property owners where the offence results in
“serious harm to fish” (including the destruction of
In 2010, Tom Gaglardi began redeveloping his family’s
recreational property on Kamloops Lake. The plans included
rebuilding the existing bungalow and adding an adjoining five
bedroom bunkhouse building. To carry out this work, Gaglardi
directed his crew to clear almost all of the trees on his
waterfront property, thereby destroying 4200 m2of
foreshore and riparian vegetation. The trial judge found that this work
destroyed “a good deal of valuable salmon habitat” and
stated “[d]espite the remediation undertaken by the
defendants, this fish habitat will not be effectively restored for
many years, if not decades to come” (at para 8).
Fines, Penalties and Remediation
At trial, Gaglardi and his company were charged $140,000 in
fines and penalties. This, along with the roughly $85,000 in
remediation costs that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans
directed Gaglardi to spend, resulted in Gaglardi paying a total of
$225,000 as a result of destruction of fish habitat resulting from
the works carried out at his family cabin.
The Crown appealed the trial judge’s decision, seeking
even higher fines and penalties. In its review, the B.C. Supreme
Court found no errors in the trial judge’s decision.
Instead the Court concluded that the fines imposed, inclusive of
the costs of remediation, properly reflected the gravity of the
harm caused and were “significant” enough given the
statutory maximum fine in existence at the time of the offences. As
such, the fines and penalties totalling $140,000 against Gaglardi
and his company were upheld.
Although the Crown lost on appeal, this decision reflects a
willingness by the Crown to seek substantial fines in cases where
there has been unauthorized permanent alteration or destruction of
fish habitat. Since the date of the offences committed by
Northland Properties Corporation, maximum fines for summary
convictions under the Fisheries Act have increased for
individuals from $300,000 to $600,000 (for a second or subsequent
offence) and in the case of corporations, from $300,000 to
$8,000,000 (for a second or subsequent offence). The
willingness of the Crown to seek substantial fines, and the
increase in maximum fines, highlights how important it is that all
persons planning to carry out works in or around fish habitat
ensure that they abide to the law to avoid significant fines and
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