Judge to rule on fisheries regulation fines in June
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.