Fine goes from $10K, to $100K
The issue goes back to 2011, when the Big River First Nations was given a warning about environmental violations at a gasoline station on the reserve.
The situation involved contraventions of the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations.
The gas bar near Debden in central Saskatchewan was revisited by inspectors in 2014 who found the situation was still not corrected and issued a compliance order.
In 2015 when the situation was not fully corrected, charges were laid.
The aboriginal band was charged as an “individual” owner of the gas bar and pleaded guilty in 2014.
Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) an “individual” can be fined from $5,000 to $300,000.
In 2017, The provincial judge ruled at the time that the minimum fine of $5,000 was too small given the infractions, but the maximum fine would impose undue hardship on the Big River First Nation, and instead imposed a fine of $10,000.
What’s in a word?- Thousands of dollars!
The Crown (government) appealed the sentence saying that the band was not a corporation operating the station, and should be charged as a “person”.
Under the Act an individual can be either fined or jailed, but a person can only be fined, and the minimum fine for a “person” is $100,000.
Although the exact understanding of either word is not clarified, the appeal judge ruled the original judge erred by accepting the understanding of individual and sided with the Crown’s use of “person” and so imposed the minimum fine in that case, $100,000.
There is no comment yet from the Big River Band Council on the decision.