Keywords:Wildlife Act – s. 60; guide outfitter quota; stone sheep; change of venue
Five guide outfitters (the “Appellants”) appealed the decision of the Regional Wildlife Manager, Peace Region, to reduce their stone sheep quotas for 2004. The Appellants applied to have the appeal hearing held in Victoria and not in Fort St. John, the headquarters of the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection’s Peace regional operations. The B.C. Wildlife Federation which, was granted participant status on behalf of resident hunters in the region, asked that the hearing be held in Fort St. John. The Regional Wildlife Manager also requested that the hearing be held in Fort St. John.
The Board noted that its general policy is to convene a hearing in the location closest to where the subject matter of the appeal arises—in this case, Fort St. John. The Board considered the venue applications in light of a 2001 decision of the Forest Appeals Commission, where the Commission surveyed Canadian case law and found six factors that are relevant to the choice of venue. The factors are: location of business operations; location of the transaction in question; location of witnesses; location of land in question; location of persons affected (whether as a party or as a member of the community); and economic considerations.
The Board found that, in applying those factors to the Appellants’ applications, and particularly considering the interests of the local public versus those of the public in the rest of the province, the interests were in favour of a hearing in Fort St. John.