Forest Practices Board Fights For Right To Release Audit
Victoria – The Forest Practices Board announced today that it will oppose an application to prevent it from issuing its audit report about Northwood Inc.’s forest practices near Houston, B.C.
On Dec.21, Northwood will ask the Court of Appeal to prohibit release of the board report until the court decides the company’s appeal of a Supreme Court ruling. This decision upheld the board’s right to publish the report.
“The board is taking the position that publication of this audit report should not be delayed any longer. We are vigorously opposing Northwood’s application,” said Keith Moore, board chair. “We believe it is time for this audit to be made public.”
On Nov. 30, the B.C. Supreme Court issued a decision supporting the board’s right to fully report its audit findings to the public. In the first court challenge to the board’s reporting rights, Northwood had argued that the Board could not comment on practices that comply with the Forest Practices Code but cause environmental damage-and make recommendations for change.
The court recognized the key role of the board in improving the code and making it more effective. Many board recommendations are made as a result of its audit findings.
In June of this year, Northwood Inc. obtained a temporary court order to halt publication of a board audit of Forest Licence A16828 near Houston, and challenged the board’s reporting rights in B.C. Supreme Court in a hearing on Oct. 25-27.
In the Supreme Court ruling, Justice Donald Brenner upheld the right of the board to issue the report, citing the importance of board reports in fostering an informed public discussion about changes that could improve the code.
The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest practices. The board provides British Columbians with objective and independent assessments of the state of forest planning and practices in the province, compliance with the code, and the achievement of its intent.
The board’s main roles, as established under the Forest Practices Code, are auditing forest practices, undertaking investigations in response to public complaints, investigating any code-related forestry issues, participating in administrative reviews and appeals and providing reports on board activities, findings and recommendations.
December 16, 1999