The British Columbia government introduced a number of updates to resource-related acts on March 7, including changes to the Occupiers Liability Act that it says will reduce liability concerns arising from the public use of resource roads.
Proposed amendments to the Occupiers Liability Act will:
- Reduce third-party liability to both the government and forest road maintainers on resource roads by aligning liability limitations with existing liability limitations on rural agricultural land and marked recreational trails.
- Reduce the number of resource roads that are closed due to concerns regarding third party liability.
Other legislative amendments introduced include:
- A proposed Forest Act amendment will remove the requirement to notify the public of forest service road closures in the Gazette or local newspapers, and instead have the option of using modern media technology and road signage.
- Proposed amendments to the Forestry Service Providers Protection Act will strengthen implementation of the act with provisions dealing with how liens and charges under the act will be registered and tracked.
- Proposed Wildfire Act amendments will provide additional clarity on the obligations to reduce potential fire hazards when a secondary tenure is issued, typically for the bio-energy sector. This will help facilitate the timely utilization of slash materials following harvest, better protecting communities and natural resources from fire hazards.
There are approximately 450,000 kilometres of resource roads in British Columbia: 58,000 are Forest Service roads, close to 200,000 are permit or licence roads and the balance are orphan or “non-status” roads. The 450,000 kilometres of resource roads in B.C. are equivalent in length to about 56 times the length of the Trans-Canada Highway.