April 19, 2004

Amendments designed to improve efficiency, effectiveness of WLAP Ministry functions

Legislative amendments recently introduced by British Columbia Water, Land and Air Protection (WLAP) Minister Bill Barisoff are intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a number of Ministry functions.

The Water, Land and Air Protection Statutes Amendment Act, 2004, will amend the Environmental Management Act to:

*clarify the authority empowering conservation officers to carry out compliance and enforcement duties;

*revise the definition of the term "conservation officer" in the act to ensure that special and auxiliary officers do not unintentionally receive the general powers of conservation officers; and

*clarify the circumstances under which search warrants may be issued, so as to reduce the likelihood of constitutional challenges.

The Environmental Management Act/Integrated Pest Management Act will be amended to limit the application of the Offence Act to instances where property is seized as evidence as part of an investigation of an alleged offence. This will ensure that reporting procedures will not apply to the routine taking of samples for inspection purposes.

BC's amended Wildlife Act will:

*clarify the definition of "resident" in the act to mean persons must have lived in the province for a certain portion of the year leading up to the date when an application is made; and

*clarify that section 75, addressing the accidental killing of wildlife, is intended only as a reporting requirement.

The limitation period for laying charges is being amended under the Acts above, and also under the Ecological Reserve Act and the Park Act: all of these pieces of legislation will now set a consistent limitation period of three years from the time of the offence, or 18 months from the time an alleged offence comes to the attention of the Minister.

These changes are designed to ensure a smooth transition when the Environmental Management Act and Integrated Pest Management Act are brought into force. They will prevent unnecessary administrative overlap and reduce the likelihood of legal challenges in relation to search and seizure activities conducted in support of prosecutions.

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