Fox Forest Products goes through justice forum

Fox Forest Products has reached an agreement through a community justice forum for a disturbance of riparian zone along the Kettle River.

Fox Forest Products, Inc. has reached an agreement through a community justice forum for a disturbance of riparian zone along the Kettle River in Midway.

A donation of $10,000 was given to the Granby Wilderness Society to rehabilitate and improve the riparian zones along the river.

After purchasing 45 acres located along the Kettle River in Midway in 2008, Fox Forests encroached and disturbed the riparian zone of the river in attempt to clean up the site.

The property was previously owned by Pope & Talbot, and was used as a log storage yard and garbage dump.

Dave Webster, Grand Forks Conservation Officer noted there was a complaint about activity along the Kettle River.

“It was potentially illegal under the Federal Fisheries Act and Provincial Water Act,” said Webster.

“Fox Forest had undertaken the site, to get it cleaned up in their mind, for potential development.

“What they ended up doing was they removed mature cottonwood and a lot of streamside vegetation from our riparian area, which is contrary to those regulations.”

Webster performed an investigation on those offenses and spoke to the company.

Quintin Apedaile, the director of operations for Fox Forest explained they had hired an independent contractor and had their own property manager to do the work.

“We thought they were staying within the requirements and did not realize we had encroached into space until we had been approached,” Apedaile said.

“Our intent was to improve it; to make it clean and better and get all those barrels and sort of things cleaned up and out of there. Not to do any damage.”

Fox Forest has taken full responsibility for the encroachment.

After speaking with the company, Webster noted the circumstances fit the cause for a community justice forum, rather than taking the case to court.

A community justice forum involves both victim and offender and focuses on their personal needs.

“I’m an attorney by trade and in my experience it gets quite frustrating dealing with litigation, which is how these things are usually handled,” stated Apedaile.

“It was great to be able to go in there and sit down with various parties, most of them there on a voluntary basis, that were genuinely concerned with the health of the river.”

Webster added, “Once we entered into the official restorative justice forum, it was really quick. It took about a month to get everything sorted out.”

The donation to the Granby Wilderness Society will aid in the restoration of the river.

The society, the Ministry of Environment and local volunteers will make a cooperative effort to remediate the site, stated Webster.

Fox Forest has pulled the project and is currently working to remove all operations from Canada to focus on production in the United States.