Judge to rule on fish­eries reg­u­la­tion fines in June

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Alberta - BY DELON SHURTZ South­ern Al­berta News­pa­pers

The Brooks Mo­tocross Club and a mem­ber of its ex­ec­u­tive, both found guilty last year of con­tra­ven­ing the Fish­eries Act and Species at Risk Act, will learn later this sum­mer how many thou­sands of dol­lars they will be fined.

Leth­bridge judge Jerry LeGran­deur is sched­uled to give his de­ci­sion June 24 in Leth­bridge pro­vin­cial court, where, if the judge ac­cepts the Crown’s rec­om­men­da­tion, the club could be fined $70,000 and David Allen French $40,000.

De­fence, on the other hand, is seek­ing a to­tal fine of $30,000 for the club and be­tween $10,000 and $20,000 for French, who was vice-pres­i­dent of the club at the time of the of­fences.

Fol­low­ing a trial, and in his de­ci­sion given Dec. 17, 2018, Judge LeGran­deur said the club and French con­tra­vened the acts by al­low­ing mo­tocross bikes to race through streams con­tain­ing sen­si­tive fish habi­tat, killing a num­ber of bull trout, as well as west slope cut­throat trout, which are des­ig­nated a threat­ened species.

The two charges stem from a mo­tocross race at Race­horse Creek in the Crowsnest Pass, Aug. 30, 2014.

The Crown said dur­ing trial last spring the race crossed north and south Race­horse Creek at a num­ber of lo­ca­tions, and although French, who was charged as a party to the of­fences, said he built bridges in 2014, Crown wit­nesses who took photos of the race tes­ti­fied there was only one per­ma­nent bridge.

De­fence for the club as­serted there was no ev­i­dence to connect the club to the of­fences be­yond a rea­son­able doubt, or that fish were ac­tu­ally harmed or ha­rassed by the rac­ers, es­pe­cially since non-rac­ers had also used the course. De­fence also sug­gested if the club did com­mit the act as charged, it was op­er­at­ing un­der the as­sump­tion it was au­tho­rized to run the race and was in com­pli­ance with govern­ment re­quire­ments at the cross­ings.

French’s lawyer said his client, who was club vi­cepres­i­dent at the time, was op­er­at­ing un­der the mis­taken be­lief that an­other in­di­vid­ual had ob­tained tem­po­rary au­tho­riza­tion and the race was be­ing con­ducted in ac­cor­dance with that au­tho­riza­tion, so he ex­er­cised due dili­gence and should not be li­able.

De­fence also said French was not an or­ga­nizer of the event and didn’t con­trib­ute to the per­pet­u­a­tion of the race other than in a pe­riph­eral way. How­ever, LeGran­deur noted there is, among other ev­i­dence, a video show­ing French giv­ing race in­struc­tions to the par­tic­i­pants.

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