Canfor Audit Cites Bridge Maintenance

VICTORIA-Except for bridge inspection and maintenance practices, Canfor achieved a high level of compliance with the Forest Practices Code while operating in very mountainous terrain with varied soil types and high rainfall, says a report released today by the Forest Practices Board.

The report concludes the board’s audit of Tree Farm Licence 48 held by Canadian Forest Products Ltd. Chetwynd Division in the Prince George forest region.

Canfor’s timber harvesting and road construction, maintenance and deactivation practices generally complied with code requirements, the report said. However, significant non-compliance in the company’s bridge inspection system posed a potential safety risk for industrial and recreational drivers.

The audit examined 14 bridges for which Canfor is required to carry out inspections. Under the code, inspection reports must contain specific information, including a schedule for any required repairs, the date of the next scheduled inspection, and the length of time the bridge has occupied its current site.

None of Canfor’s 1999 inspection reports contained all of the required information.

Of the 14 bridges examined in the audit, six were not inspected at the required frequency. When Canfor did inspect those bridges in 1999, three were found to be unsafe and two of these were immediately condemned, but public access was not prevented.

In reaching its conclusion of significant non-compliance, the board notes its concern that deficiencies in Canfor’s bridge inspection and maintenance procedures resulted in a potential safety problem for road users.

The report also notes that, since the audit, Canfor has dealt with the two condemned bridges by removing one and replacing the other. Canfor has also taken significant steps to improve its bridge inspection process. The company has completed an overhaul of its bridge inspection system and is now able to generate an inspection and maintenance repair plan and track the implementation of the plan.

The report includes the board’s recommendation that Canfor ensure that all future bridge inspections comply with the code’s Forest Road Regulation.

Canfor’s licence was selected randomly for audit, not on the basis of location or level of performance. The audit examined Canfor’s planning and field activities related to timber harvesting and road construction, maintenance and deactivation carried out between Sept. 1, 1998, and Sept. 22, 1999.

The licence’s operating areas surround the community of Chetwynd, approximately 100 kilometres west of Dawson Creek. Activities included in the audit were: harvesting of 72 cutblocks and 27 small-scale salvage areas, planning for 92 approved silviculture prescriptions, construction of 75.9 kilometres of road, planning for 52.3 kilometres of road, maintenance and deactivation of 1,111 kilometres of road, construction of three bridges, and maintenance of 44 bridges.

The Canfor audit is the 29th compliance audit completed by the board. Ten were clean audits, meaning the forest planning and practices met code requirements in all significant respects. Nineteen were qualified audits, meaning that there was some significant non-compliance with the code. Most non-compliance was related to logging practices near streams and the construction, maintenance and deactivation of logging roads.

The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog, established in 1995, that publishes reports about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent.The board’s main roles under the Forest Practices Code are:

  • Investigating public complaints.
  • Auditing government enforcement of the code.
  • Auditing forest practices of government and licence holders on public lands.
  • Undertaking special investigations of code-related forestry issues.
  • Participating in administrative reviews and appeals.
  • Providing reports on board activities, findings and recommendations.

Bill Cafferata,

Forest Practices Board
Phone: (250) 387-7964
Nicky Cain,

Forest Practices Board
Phone: (250) 387-7964