A recent decision by the Property Assessment Appeal Board seems to confirm the Managed Forest Program is an option for landowners, irrespective of size and ownership of individual lots, provided contiguous parcels of land, together, meet the minimum 25-hectare requirement set out by the Private Managed Forest Land Act.

We’re providing this information as a matter of interest to landowners, but individuals should seek independent advice before making any investment decisions.

In his decision, panel chair, Robert A. Kasting wrote:

“There is nothing in the Regulation which requires common ownership of the contiguous parcels. Whether the word “owner” is ascribed a singular or plural meaning by the effect of s. 28(3) of the Interpretation Act, makes no difference. Every owner must submit a form established by the assessment authority by May 31 of each year. If an owner does not submit a form, the land will not be classified as managed forest for assessment purposes. If the owner of the managed forest land, whether individually or collectively with another owner submits a form, the Assessor is required to do the further analysis required by the Regulation. Nothing in the Regulation prevents the owner of each of the contiguous parcels from making separate submissions or requires the owner of each parcel to make a joint submission. From the Appellant’s documentation, the assessment authority has historically been able to determine the value of the managed forest on Section 36 and Parcel A separately. If the Assessor’s form does not accommodate a joint submission about a managed forest, or separate submissions about different but contiguous parcels, that is an operational issue for the Assessor and not an implied restriction in the legislation.”

Prior to this decision, BC Assessment took the position that each lot in a managed forest had to be larger than the minimum 25-hectare requirement, unless the same owner owned all lots in the managed forest. This appeal decision seems to state this is not the case, and will necessitate a new interpretation and change of policy.

It is also our understanding, at this time, that managed forest parcels smaller than 25-hectares, and grandfathered into the Managed Forest Program, will continue to qualify for Assessment Class 7.

PFLA continues to work with BC Assessment and the Private Managed Forest Land Council and we’ll endeavor to keep you updated as new policies resulting from this decision are clarified.

We hope this information is helpful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments.