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Vol: XIII  –  Issue: II  –  February 2014


New Experts On Board
Quickscribe is pleased to announce the addition of two new expert annotators to our team. These individuals will be contributing content to the new Quickscribe 2.0 version of our service which is in the final stages of development.

Mary A. M. Brunton, founder and partner of the Victoria law firm Reed Pope, will act as Quickscribe’s annotator in the area of Strata Property Law.

Mary has 29 years of experience in the legal community, including 19 years in private practice. Her practice areas include real estate development, strata law and corporate/commercial dispute resolution and is a multi-faceted practitioner in both the Business and Land Development departments. Mary has particular proficiency in BC's statutory framework and regularly advises clients on the application of statutory requirements as well as statutory compliance.

Robin Longe, a partner with the law firm Bull Housser & Tupper LLP, will act as Quickscribe’s expert annotator in the area of Mining Law.

In addition to his work related to corporate transactions in the mining industry, Robin routinely provides advice to the firm's mining industry clients on other corporate and commercial matters, including regulatory matters associated with the Mineral Tenure Act, the Mines Act, and the Mining Right of Way Act. Robin will be contributing annotations to key mining legislation within the new Quickscribe Online legislation service.  

New Bills Introduced
The 2nd Session, 40th Parliament is in full swing with a number of government bills tabled in the month of February. These include:

  • Bill 1, An Act to Ensure the Supremacy of Parliament
  • Bill 2, Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, 2014
  • Bill 3, Missing Persons Act
  • Bill 4, Park Amendment Act, 2014
  • Bill 5, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Statutes Amendment Act, 2014
  • Bill 6, Provincial Capital Commission Dissolution Act
  • Bill 7, Laboratory Services Act
  • Bill 8, Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2014
  • Bill 9, Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
  • Bill 10, Pension Benefits Standards Amendment Act, 2014
  • Bill 12, Natural Gas Development Statutes Amendment Act, 2014
  • Bill 13, Off-Road Vehicle Act
  • Bill 14, Justice Statutes Amendment Act, 2014
  • Bill 15, Liquor Control and Licensing Amendment Act, 2014
  • Bill 16, Supply Act (No. 1), 2014
Three non-government bills were also introduced. These include: A reminder that if you would like to track the progress of these Bills, or to track changes to any laws that Bills amend, please feel free to make use of our BC Legislative Digest tracking tool, and have us monitor and alert you to changes for laws of your choosing.

Tip: Log in to Quickscribe Online prior to clicking Reporter links.

FEDERAL LEGISLATION — For notification of federal amendments, we recommend you use our RSS feed.

[ Previous Reporters ]



Company and Finance News:

PST Bulletins
The following PST bulletins and notices were issued in the month of February:

For more information, visit the Consumer Taxes website.

Small Business Exemptions Will Be
Granted to Recycling Program

Firms with less than $1 million in revenue, a tonne of packaging,
or at one location will avoid MMBC regulations

The province will introduce exemptions to limit the impact of new recycling rules for product packaging on small business. Under the new regulation, businesses with less than $1 million in revenue, distribute less than one tonne of packaging to consumers or are a single-location operation will be exempt from registering with the Multi-Materials B.C. stewardship program. The province approved MMBC in 2013 as B.C.’s "extended-responsibility" entity to shift the responsibility for recycling product packaging to industry. However, a backlash has begun to build within the small business community over its complex rules and confusion over what businesses would be required to comply with its recording and reporting requirements. Read the Vancouver Sun article.

Canadian Securities Regulators Propose Changes to the Accredited
Investor and Minimum Amount Investment Prospectus Exemptions
The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) today published for comment proposed amendments relating to the accredited investor prospectus exemption (AI exemption) and the minimum amount investment prospectus exemption (MA exemption) in National Instrument 45-106 Prospectus and Registration Exemptions. The proposed amendments include, among other things:

  1. a new risk acknowledgement form for individual accredited investors that describes, in plain language, the categories of individual accredited investor, and the protections an investor will not receive by purchasing under the AI exemption; and
  2. restricting the MA exemption to distributions to non-individual investors.
"These amendments are intended to address investor protection concerns, while balancing the capital raising challenges facing issuers," said Bill Rice, Chair of the CSA and Chair and CEO of the Alberta Securities Commission. Read the full BCSC article.   
Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
Cooperative Association Regulation (391/2000) Feb. 14/14 by Reg 12/2014
Exemption Regulation (27/2002) Feb. 18/14 by Reg 17/2014
Film and Television Tax Credit Regulation (4/99) Feb. 19/14 by Reg 19/2014
Multilateral Instrument 11-102 Passport System (58/2008) Mar. 1/14 by Reg 24/2014
National Instrument 23-103 Electronic Trading and Direct Electronic Access to Marketplaces (61/2013) (formerly National Instrument 23-103 Electronic Trading) Mar. 1/14 by Reg 24/2014

Energy and Mines News:

New Amendments to OGAA & PNG Act
The BC government recently introduced Bill 12, Natural Gas Development Statutes Amendment Act, 2014. This Bill affects the following resource-based Statutes:

Oil and Gas Activities Act (OGAA)
The amendments are intended to:
  • allow industry to adopt new operational improvements;
  • further define a landowner's right to appeal permits issued on private land and remove the risks associated with unnecessary appeals which could delay oil and gas development; and
  • remove an exemption for a small number of legacy pipelines. Permits will be retroactively issued and the pipelines will continue to be subject to the requirements of the Act and compliance and enforcement actions by the BC Oil and Gas Commission.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Act (PNG Act)
Amendments are intended to:
  • streamline the administration of natural gas and oil subsurface rights, creating a more consistent approach for all three tenure types – permits, leases and drilling licences. Fines will be updated so they align with penalties in other jurisdictions; and
  • permit the Province to modernize tenure practices, and remove duplication with tenure-related laws.

BC Legislation Would Allow Oil and Energy companies
to conduct preliminary research in parks
Companies planning to build projects such as pipelines and transmission lines stand to receive permits to conduct exploratory research in BC parks, according to proposed new legislation introduced [February 13]. Bill 4, Park Amendment Act, 2014, would allow investigative-use permits to be issued for studies, including for vegetation sampling, fish surveys and low-impact geotechnical studies. Based on the results of the studies, companies would then have to apply for a boundary adjustment if they wanted to proceed with a project through a park. Read more of the Vancouver Sun article.

BC to Impose New Fees on Mining Industry
The BC government is planning to impose new fees on the mining industry, saying the sector should bear the cost for better services. "It will give the ministry an opportunity to bring a few more resources in to improve our performance," Mines Minister Bill Bennett told the legislature [February 27]. But the industry is calling the move "punitive" and warns it will undermine already-fragile small-scale mining companies. Read the Globe and Mail article

BC’S Proposed LNG Tax – Some Answers, Many Questions
The recent British Columbia budget (the budget) included a basic framework for a new income tax on the liquefaction of natural gas at LNG facilities in the province (LNG Tax). The LNG Tax will apply to LNG that is to be exported from BC or consumed in BC and to the liquefaction in BC of gas produced in BC or elsewhere. However, the information on the LNG Tax released in the budget is at a high level and, as noted in this bulletin, questions remain as to how the income from liquefaction will be determined for purposes of the LNG Tax and at what rate the income will be taxed. Further details are not scheduled to be released until the fall of 2014 with administrative and enforcement provisions to be introduced in 2015. This is a summary of what was disclosed in the budget:

  • the LNG Tax will be a two-tier tax;
  • the Tier 1 tax will be 1.5% of net proceeds (revenue less expenses) once commercial production begins;
  • the Tier 2 tax will be (up to) 7% of the amount by which aggregate net proceeds exceeds the amount of the capital investment account, meaning that no Tier 2 tax will be payable until the capital investment account has been recovered. The Tier 2 rate has not been finalized and will be announced in the fall of 2014 along with other details of the LNG Tax. The province has committed to ensuring that the rate of the LNG tax will be competitive with other regimes;
  • the Tier 1 tax paid will be deductible against the Tier 2 tax. Thus, the final tax paid will be the Tier 2 tax;
  • the capital investment account will consist of the costs associated with constructing the LNG facility including storage tanks and marine loading systems. The account may also include costs related to support functions for the liquefaction process such as control rooms, warehousing and maintenance facilities and infrastructure facilities; and
  • the LNG Tax will be calculated on a facility-by-facility basis.
Read the full article by Kirsten Kjellander, Janette Pantry and Bruce Sinclair with the law firm Blakes. 

Federal government sets target date for
Mining transparency reporting rules

Mining industry observers will remember that Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year announced that Canada will soon require all public traded mining companies to disclose how much they pay all levels of government in all jurisdictions around the globe. The hope is that transparency will eliminate opportunities for corruption. Read the Financial Post article
Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
Drilling and Production Regulation (282/2010) Feb. 6/14 by Reg 8/2014
Fee, Levy and Security Regulation (8/2014)
(replaces B.C. Reg. 278/2010)
Feb. 6/14
see Reg 8/2014
Special Direction IC2 to the BC Utilities Commission (307/2004) Feb. 18/14 by Reg 20/2014

Family and Children News:

Proposed Amendments to Family Law Act
On March 3rd, Bill 14, the Justice Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, was introduced in the legislature. The amendments propose corrections and clarifications to provisions of the Family Law Act. The amendments clarify sections that deal with dividing property held in trust at the end of a relationship, and sections related to choosing the appropriate jurisdiction, law and court to determine property division. Proposed changes also include the addition of regulation-making authority to prescribe minimum standards for professionals who prepare reports that recommend parenting arrangements. Similar standards exist in regulations for other family law professionals, such as mediators. Consultations will inform the content of any regulations made as was done with earlier regulations setting standards for other family law professionals. Source: Government of BC

Proposed Amendments to Adult Guardianship Act
and Patients Property Act

On March 3rd, Bill 14, the Justice Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, was introduced in the legislature. The proposed amendments are intended to support a phased approach to implementation of the Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendment Act, 2007, with statutory guardianship provisions scheduled to come into force on December 1, 2014. The proposed amendments will coordinate statutory guardianship under the Adult Guardianship Act with "court committeeship" under the Patients Property Act. It will also make some technical amendments. Changes to the Family Maintenance and Enforcement Act and others will also be made as a result of this Bill. Source: Government of BC

West Coast LEAF Recommends Pilot Family Law Projects
"Family law is the most significant unmet legal need in the province" of British Columbia, says a report released this week by West Coast LEAF titled Putting justice back on the map: The route to equal and accessible family justice. "Cost, delay, complexity, the unaffordability of legal representation, and the lack of legal aid make it all but impossible for many British Columbians to assert their legal rights in family law cases," the report states. “Given the significance of the issues at stake – custody of children, fair division of property and support obligations, and protection from violence, to name just a few – the importance of ensuring that everyone has access to the assistance they need in order to assert their legal rights should be obvious." This report follows on the heels of the CBA’s Envisioning Equal Justice report, published in December, and the Roadmap for Change published by the National Action Committee for Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, released in October. Read the full article published on the CBA National website. 

Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
There were no amendments this month.
Forest and Environment News:

Legislative Changes to benefit
natural resource sector

Legislative amendments introduced [recently] under Bill 5, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, are intended to streamline the regulatory framework for the natural resource sector and help improve the stewardship of British Columbia’s forests, rangeland and wildlife.

Range Act Amendments
Proposed amendments are intended to:
  • streamline the process for approving agreements (permits and licences), so that vacant Crown range can be allocated more quickly and efficiently;
  • improve business certainty for range operators by allowing longer terms on tenures and conversion of grazing permits issued prior to 2004 to grazing licences;
  • allow a holder of multiple tenures to more easily consolidate or subdivide those tenures and enable the conversion of grazing leases to grazing licences, providing flexibility for tenure holders to manage their unique business models; and
  • remove the requirement for operators to obtain ministry approval before selling excess hay production.
Wildlife Act Amendments
Proposed amendments are intended to:
  • allow corporations as well as individuals to hold guiding territory certificates, making guide certificate ownership less risky by reducing liability among co-owners and increasing opportunities for individuals to come together to purchase territories; and
  • replace the licensing requirement for assistant guides with an authorization issued by the employing guide outfitter, giving guide outfitters more flexibility to hire help in unexpected peak periods.
Land Title Act Amendments
Proposed amendments are intended to provide greater certainty to landowners by clarifying the ownership of subdivided land underwater when it is next to Crown land.

Forest Act Amendments
  • streamlining administrative processes by transferring decision-making authority from cabinet to the minister on most wood residue export applications (wood residue includes wood chips, slabs, edgings, sawdust and shavings, and is mostly used in pulp and paper and bioenergy)
  • allowing people to collect firewood from woodlots and community forests, if they have received the proper permission
  • clarifying provisions related to collecting annual rent, bonus bids and putting specific conditions on forest licences
Wildfire Act Amendments
Proposed amendments are intended to make it clear that the provincial government should not be held legally accountable for unavoidable property damage or losses caused by wildfire, so long as it did not act in bad faith while working to control or suppress those fires. This change is expected to save the provincial government $700,000 to $1.3 million annually in legal costs.
Source: Government of BC 

Environmental Appeal Board Decisions
A number of Environmental Appeal Board decisions were released in the month of February. All decisions fell under the authority of the Environmental Management Act and included:

Taking Accuracy Seriously – Stumpage Appraisals
In Western Forest Products Ltd. v. Government of British Columbia, Decision Nos. 2013-FA-001(a) and 2013-FA-002(a) (the “Western Decision”), the Forest Appeals Commission has elevated the importance of "accurate information" in the appraisal of stumpage to something more than a legislative or professional obligation. It has, effectively, become a principle of interpretation applicable to BC’s stumpage appraisal manuals (the "Manual"). As with most stumpage disputes, the Western Decision concerned a difference of opinion over some obscure provision of the Manual. At issue was the ability of licensees to account for the estimated costs of a road that would service multiple cutting permits in the appraisals of more than one of those cutting permits (rather than only in the appraisal of the first cutting permit serviced by the road). Read the full article by Jeff Waatainen, a senior forestry lawyer with the law firm Davis LLP. Jeff will also be contributing expert annotations to the new version of Quickscribe. 

Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
BC Timber Sales Account Regulation (9/2014) NEW
Feb. 6/14
see Reg 9/2014
Carbon Tax Regulation (125/2008) Feb. 14/14
Jan. 1/14
by Reg 11/2014
Health News:

New BC Legislation for Laboratory System
Bill 7, Laboratory Services Act, was introduced in the legislature on February 17, 2014. The Bill enacts the Laboratory Services Act, an Act that is intended to

  • remove laboratory services as benefits administered under the Hospital Insurance Act and the Medicare Protection Act,
  • provide a single legislative framework to govern the provision of laboratory services as benefits, and
  • provide flexibility for the administration and delivery of laboratory services through a mix of models.

Province Urges Action on Flavoured Tobacco
Health Minister Terry Lake is calling once again for the federal government to build upon existing legislation banning flavoured tobacco. "In November 2013 and again in February 2014, I wrote to the federal government to encourage an enhanced ban on flavoured tobacco products," said Lake. "We cannot let these sweet flavours soften the harshness of tobacco. Flavoured tobacco can become a gateway for a young person to become dependent on or addicted to nicotine." The federal government has existing legislation that bans the use of youth-oriented flavourings in cigarettes and small cigars under 1.4 grams. However, tobacco manufacturers are now creating flavoured cigars just above that weight, making them attractive to youth. Read the BC Government news release

BC safe-injection site applies to Health Canada
for Exemption to Drug Laws

After running a safe-injection site for 12 years without an exemption to drug laws, the operators of a Vancouver health centre are asking the federal government to let them continue providing the harm-reduction service legally. The Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation and Vancouver Coastal Health authority announced [recently] they have applied to Health Canada for the exemption. The foundation operates the Dr. Peter Centre, which provides services to people with HIV and AIDS, including a supervised injection site and a needle exchange. Its services are funded, in large part, by the health authority. A separate safe-injection site, Insite, also operates in the city, but it, unlike the Dr. Peter Centre, has an exemption. Read the CTV article

Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
Drug Price Regulation (344/2012) Mar. 1/14 by Reg 344/2012
Labour and Employment News:

Bill Amends New Pension Benefits Standards Act
Amendments to the new Pension Benefits Standard Act are intended to clarify elements of the original act and help ensure the legislation will be ready for proclamation later this year, Finance Minister Michael de Jong recently announced. The amendments are primarily technical corrections, including:

  • A new provision that clarifies a pension plan is not liable after transferring responsibility for pensions to a regulated insurance company, as long as specific conditions are met.
  • Enabling the spouse of a deceased pension plan member to designate a beneficiary for the surviving spouse's benefits.
  • Providing that a former participating employer who fails to provide required information to the plan administrator may be compelled to comply by court order.
  • Clarifying that member consent required for distribution of actuarial excess or surplus does not apply to withdrawals from a solvency reserve account.
Source: Government of BC

New Wills, Estates and Succession Act Coming
to BC – Application to Pension Plans
Lisa Chamzuk, a partner with the law firm Lawson Lundell LLP, recently published the following article that provides a high-level summary of WESA as it applies to "benefit plans", and to permit you to determine what questions you may want to ask and answer in order to be sure that your pension plan complies with the new legislation. Read the article.

Privacy Rights and Unionized Employees
On February 7, 2014, in Bernard v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it is not a violation of privacy for unions to collect personal contact information of all employees who pay union dues, even if such employees are not members of the union. Bernard v. Canada (Attorney General) came before the Supreme Court of Canada after a "legal odyssey" (as the Court put it) of three administrative tribunal proceedings and two rounds of judicial review, when Ms. Elizabeth Bernard appealed a finding of the Federal Court of Appeal that a decision of the Public Service Labour Relations Board (the "Board"), which concluded that a union was entitled to an employee's home contact information, was reasonable and did not violate the Privacy Act. Read the full article by Heather Hettiarachchi with the law firm Clark Wilson LLP.  Heather is Quickscribe’s official employment law expert and will contribute annotations throughout the legislation on the new version of Quickscribe Online.

BC Re-Introducing PRPP Legislation Changes
to Pensions Act also Announced

British Columbia has re-introduced legislation to bring pooled registered pension plans (PRPPs) to the province. Bill 9, which passed first reading on February 19th, would enable employees of small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the self-employed, to join pension plans administered by regulated financial institutions. BC’s legislation substantially adopts the federal legislation to ensure the province’s participation in the PRPP framework does not impose unnecessary administrative burden. Providing PRPPs is voluntary and employer contributions are optional. If an employer offers a PRPP to employees, they will be automatically enrolled, but each employee has the right to opt out. Nearly two-thirds of BC workers are without a registered pension plan. Removing the administrative burden of pension plans makes offering a pension plan more attractive and affordable for employers, said the government. Read the full article published by Canadian HR Reporter.

Federal Budget 2014: What Employers,
HR and Payroll Need to Know

The Federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty tabled the Economic Action Plan 2014 in the House of Commons on February 11, 2014, which confirms that the Government is on track to return to balanced budgets in 2015, with new measures that will create jobs and opportunities in an uncertain global economy. Budget documents indicate that there are no new taxes on Canadian families or businesses. However, the government projects that the deficit will decline to $2.9 billion in 2014-15, after taking into account a $3 billion annual adjustment for risk. A surplus of $6.4 billion is expected in 2015-16, again after taking into account a $3 billion annual adjustment for risk. In the coming years, that surplus is projected to grow steadily before reaching $10.3 billion in 2018-19. Budget measures of interest to organizations, employers and employees are included in the full article by Yosie Saint-Cyr published on the First Reference Talks blog. 

Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
Employment Standards Regulation (396/95) Feb. 4/14 by Reg 7/2014
Health Care Employers Regulation (427/94) Feb. 14/14 by Reg 14/2014
Social Services Employers Regulation (84/2003) Feb. 14/14 by Regs 13/2014 and 15/2014

Local Government News:

Province won’t grant Vancouver’s request to change campaign finance rules
Minister wants same rules
for all BC Towns, Cities and Regional Governments

The BC government will crack open the Vancouver Charter to make changes to term limits for municipal politicians, but isn’t interested in giving the City of Vancouver more power over its own campaign finance rules. Community Minister Coralee Oakes said [recently] she wants the same campaign finance rules for all BC towns, cities and regional governments. "There needs to be consistency," she said. Vancouver is governed by its own charter, unlike most other municipalities that fall under the province’s Local Government Act. The province will amend the Vancouver Charter this spring as part of legislation to extend municipal term limits to four years, and bring in changes to disclosure and registration of donations and advertising in municipal election campaigns. Read the Vancouver Sun article. 

Province Announces Four-Year Terms
If legislation announced yesterday is passed, local government elected officials will be committing to a four-year term in the elections November 15, 2014. Minister Coralee Oakes announced the Province would change the local government term of office from three years to four as part of the local election reforms the government is planning to introduce during the current legislative session. Read full article published on the UBCM website. 

Property Tax Exemptions
In this paper written for the CLEBC (Continuing Legal Education Society of BC) course Real Property Assessment and Taxation, authors Ludmila B. Herbst and Nav Baidwan discuss property tax exemptions and investigate permissive exemptions in detail. The area of property tax and property tax exemptions is governed by an array of statutes. The statutes that apply to any one property can depend on where the property is situated, who owns the property or the purpose that the property is used for. For property located in the City of Vancouver, the applicable statute will be the Vancouver Charter, S.B.C. 1953, c. 55. The Community Charter, S.B.C. 2003, c. 26 applies to municipalities other than the City of Vancouver. The Local Government Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 323 applies to regional districts and the Taxation (Rural Area) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 448 applies to rural, unorganized areas. In addition, property owned by a health authority may be fully exempt from taxation under the Health Authorities Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 180. Similarly, the University Act, R.S.B.C., 1996, c. 468 provides an exemption from taxation to property that is vested in a university or used or held by or on behalf of the university or an affiliated student society for university purposes. The School Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 412 also provides exemptions from school taxes to properties that are exempt under other taxation statutes. Read full article here.

Changes in Cell Tower Rules
The Federal Government has announced new rules that telecommunication companies will need to meet when locating cell towers. The new requirements are intended [to] increase transparency by ensuring that municipalities are notified regarding the proposed siting of all cell towers; local residents are given an opportunity to provide input; and communications are improved throughout the siting process. Under the new rules a company will be required to:

  • consult on all commercial tower installations, regardless of height. Previously a company was only required to consult with local residents when it was planning to build a tower higher than 15 metres;
  • establish a three-year limit between the time of consultation and the time the tower is built; and
  • ensure that local residents are informed about consultations on plans to build a cell tower in their area by requiring the company to notify them directly.
Read full article published on the UBCM website. 
Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
Home Owner Grant Regulation (100/2002) Feb. 18/14
Jan. 1/14
by Reg 18/2014
Subdividable Property Designation (Strait of Georgia) Regulation (10/2014) NEW
Feb. 14/14
see Reg 10/2014
Victoria Regional Transit Commission Regulation No. 35-2014 (21/2014) NEW
Feb. 18/14
see Reg 21/2014

Miscellaneous News:

Provincial Capital Commission to Be Dissolved
New legislation (Bill 6, Provincial Capital Commission Dissolution Act) was introduced in February that will dissolve the Provincial Capital Commission and transfers its property, assets and liabilities to the provincial government, with the exception of the Belleville wharves, which are transferred to the BC Transportation Financing Authority. The government estimates this move will save $1.5 million annually.

Proposed Amendments to Court Act
On March 3rd, Bill 14, the Justice Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, was introduced in the legislature. The proposed amendments will bring into effect the reorganization of the judicial administrative structure for greater efficiency. This includes the introduction of new regional administrative judge positions to support five judicial administrative regions. They also clarify a judge’s ability to more effectively manage family matters in a courtroom, and provide municipalities the discretion to create a family court committee.

BC judge says mandatory minimum for
Drug Offences is Unconstitutional

A British Columbia Provincial Court judge has ruled that a one-year mandatory minimum sentence for drug trafficking recently introduced by the federal government is a violation of the Charter of Rights and declared it "of no force and effect." BC Provincial Court Judge Joseph Galati instead sentenced Joseph Ryan Lloyd on [March 5th] to 191 days behind bars, saying the 25-year-old from Alberta was a low-level dealer selling drugs to support his own addiction. Read full article published in the Star.

Electoral Boundaries Commission Act Amendments
On February 12, 2014, proposed amendments to the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act were introduced in the BC Legislature. The amendments aim to maintain the existing northern and rural electoral districts and ensure that the number of provincial electoral districts remains at 85. British Columbia’s demographics have changed significantly since the act was first passed almost 25 years ago, and recent boundaries commissions have found it challenging to balance population growth with the need to ensure effective representation for northern and rural British Columbians. Read the  Government of BC news release.

Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business Expected Results for the 2014/2015 Fiscal Year Regulation (16/2014) NEW
Feb. 18/14
see Reg 16/2014
Motor Vehicle and Traffic News:

Seat Belt Amendment – Motor Vehicle Act
An amendment was made to the Motor Vehicle Act, repealing section 220 (5) (b) and (7) (a), which deal with the application of seatbelt requirements for an individual who is in possession of, and produces on request to a peace officer, a valid and subsisting certificate.

New Off-Road Vehicle Act
On February 24th the government introduced the Off-Road Vehicle Act into the BC Legislature. The new Act will repeal and replace the Motor Vehicle (All Terrain) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 319, updating that Act's vehicle registration scheme, vehicle operation rules, compliance and enforcement provisions and regulation-making authorities in relation to off-road vehicles (ORV). The act, if passed and brought into force, will:

  • Establish a one-time registration system specifically designed to integrate with the pre-existing structure of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s vehicle registry, reducing implementation costs. ORVs will have to be registered and display a clearly visible number plate before they can be operated on Crown or other public land. n the rules of operation (such as wearing helmets), safety standards and conditions of use for a wide range of modern ORVs, including snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles or "quads", dirt bikes and utility terrain vehicles.
  • Assist in identifying stolen or abandoned ORVs, by requiring ORVs to be registered in a database that is accessible to peace officers at all times.
  • Provide officers with more effective enforcement tools to target the small number of irresponsible ORV owners that endanger others or damage sensitive habitat. This includes the ability to stop and inspect ORVs for violations, seize an ORV for safety or evidence purposes, and increase the maximum fine for offences from $500 to $5,000.

BC appeal court dismisses challenge
to tough drunk driving laws

The BC government's controversial 2010 anti-drunk driving scheme with its Immediate Roadside suspensions was originally unconstitutional, the province's highest court agreed [March 3]. But the unanimous decision by the Court of Appeal means the status quo continues because the province amended the law in 2012 and the new version remains to be tested. "The court dismissed the appeals and cross-appeals, which means the several decisions that were subject of the judgment stand," lawyer Jeremy Carr said. "Nothing has changed, until we have challenged the new law." The appellate bench said the B.C. Supreme Court got it right, and it added that the sections governing motorists who refuse to provide a breath sample were constitutional. Read the Vancouver Sun article.

BC Laws under Review after judge rules driver not covered
after drunken passenger causes crash

BC’s transportation minister says he’s concerned about a judge’s ruling that left a designated driver unable to collect on third-party liability insurance after her drunk passenger caused a serious accident. Todd Stone says he and Attorney General Suzanne Anton will be reviewing the decision in the coming days to discuss how they’ll proceed, which may or may not include legislative changes. The case follows a crash on the Trans-Canada Highway east of Vancouver on July 8, 2006, when a passenger named Kevin Hearne grabbed the steering wheel of a car driven by his girlfriend, Marnetta Felix. Read the article published in the Province

Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
Motor Vehicle Act Feb. 26/14 by 2010 Bill 14, c. 14, section 20 only (in force by Reg 240/2013), Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2010
Motor Vehicle Fees Regulation (334/91) Feb. 1/14 by Reg 260/2013
Mar. 1/14
Special Direction IC2 to the BC Utilities Commission (307/2004) Feb. 18/14 by Reg 20/2014

Property and Real Estate News:

Natural Gas Statutes Amendment Act
Bill 12, Natural Gas Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, introduced on February 26th, proposes the following amendments to the Strata Property Act:

  • streamlining some definitions by removing excess wording;
  • requiring strata corporations to prepare lists of storage locker numbers belonging to owners;
  • allowing an owner of a strata lot, who was the purchaser of the strata lot before the conveyance to the owner, to apply for an order regarding the removal of claims of lien;
  • allowing the costs of depreciation reports to come out of the operating fund of a strata corporation;
  • requiring a majority vote for certain expenditures from the contingency reserve fund; and
  • clarifying who owes a special levy before a strata lot is conveyed to a purchaser.

Tenant Survival Guide Launched as Clicklaw Wikibook
In a joint release, Courthouse Libraries BC and the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre announced the launch of a new Clicklaw Wikibook. The Tenant Survival Guide – popular resource for tenants in British Columbia – is now online, fully searchable and available to download in a number of flexible formats, including EPUB and PDF. Visit wiki.clicklaw.bc.ca/index.php/Tenant_Survival_Guide to see the new format. Source: CLBC 

New BC Strata Rules Mean Simple
Majority Can Approve Repairs

Owners of condos and apartments will more easily be able to vote for major repairs to their buildings under changes to strata legislation introduced by the BC government February 26th. The new strata rules will allow condo associations to vote to spend contingency funds for fixes recommended in depreciation reports using a simple majority, and not three-quarters of membership, said Rich Coleman, the minister responsible for housing. That will make it easier for condo boards to pass major repairs, rather than get tied up in votes where holdouts can delay work for years and cause costs to rise, said Coleman. The changes would also clarify that strata councils can use operating money to pay for depreciation reports, which are required by the province. Read the Vancouver Sun article

Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
There were no amendments this month.

Wills and Estates News:

WESA Amendments
The Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) comes into force on March 31, 2014. As a convenience to our clients, Quickscribe has posted an early consolidation of WESA on our site as it will likely read on March 31st. The BC Government recently introduced the Justice Statutes Amendment Act, 2014 which proposes numerous changes to WESA. The proposed amendments do not make substantive changes or affect the policies underlying WESA. If passed, amendments include:

  • Correcting cross-references and changing the language of some sections to clarify meaning.
  • Ensuring that WESA reflects changes brought about by the coming into force of parts of the Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendment Act, 2007.
  • Updating the definition of "spouse" to reflect changes brought about by the enactment of the Family Law Act.
  • Correcting the operation of section 23 of WESA, which sets out the distribution of a deceased person’s estate where they have no will.
  • Ensuring that WESA works with the proposed new probate rules.
  • Clarifying three sections relating to the role or responsibilities of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
It is not clear whether or not these amendments will come into law prior to March 31, 2014. Therefore, rather than consolidating these proposed amendments we have posted a notice on the WESA table of contents to advise you of these proposed amendments.

Estate Planning - "Should I Appoint a Professional Executor/Trustee
in My Will, or a Close Family Member/Friend?"

An Executor/Trustee has a wide range of obligations and responsibilities to fulfill. When doing your Estate Planning and choosing an Executor/Trustee, you have a number of important considerations to keep in mind. In a nutshell, the choices available are: Corporate Trustee (like a Bank or Trust Company), a family member/friend (or more than one, named as Co-Trustees), or another willing professional you know, such as your Accountant or Lawyer. (A Bank, Trust Company, Accountant and Lawyer are referred to hereafter simply as "Professional Trustee".) The first thing you should do, if you are in the process of making such important decisions, is to contact an estate planning lawyer to discuss the various issues involved. A good estate planning lawyer is worth more than the documents they create. Your answers to the questions asked by your estate planning lawyer, and your decision making process triggered by those questions, documented by a careful lawyer, will make all the difference in the world to your actual written plan. The planning behind the documents is what gets you the results you desire. Read the full article by Vanessa DeDominicis with the law firm Pushor Mitchell LLP.

Text Message Wills?
As indicated previously, when WESA comes into force on March 31, 2014, the courts will have discretion to accept for probate a document or record that does not meet the formal requirements for the execution of wills. BC courts have not had this discretion in the past. Pursuant to section 58 of WESA, the court may order that any "record, document or writing, or marking on a will or document" be fully effective as though it were a valid will, if the court is satisfied that it represents the testamentary intentions of the deceased. Electronic records are included in the definition of "record". Bearing this in mind, a recent blog post by Hull & Hull LLP titled "Court Refuses to Accept Text Messages as a Will" is particularly interesting. Read the full article by Gordon Behan with Clark Wilson LLP. 

Act or Regulation Affected Effective Date Amendment Information
There were no amendments this month.
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