Bill 74, Forest and Range Practices Act, passed 3rd Reading and received Royal Assent on November 21, 2002. This is the first of several anticipated pieces of legislation, is designed to reflect proposed changes and input received from interested parties over the summer through a public consultation process. The cornerstone of the new Code is the requirement for a comprehensive forest stewardship plan that will replace three existing operational plans. The forest stewardship plan is intended to identify measurable and enforceable results that forest companies must achieve, or face penalties. Companies must also produce site plans that are available to the public and First Nations on request. Some penalties will double through regulation when the Act takes effect in April 2003. Under the new regime, the onus is on companies to prove they have done everything reasonable to avoid damage. Without that proof, companies face fines of up to a million dollars or time in jail. Administrative penalties will also be increased under the new legislation. The Ministry of Forests is also planning to create specialized compliance and enforcement units.
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