The case of Avender v. Western Canadian Timber Products Ltd. was heard in court in Nanaimo during August, with the Supreme Court’s decision coming down earlier this month. NEWS BULLETIN file photo

Court finds that company was ‘careless’ in cutting down 45 trees near Nanaimo

Western Canadian Timber Products ordered to pay $80,000 to private landowners

The B.C. Supreme Court has found that a timber company was ‘reckless and careless’ in cutting down 45 trees on private property near Nanaimo.

Earlier this month the court decided Western Canadian Timber Products must pay $80,000 to James and Deborrah Avender after their trees were mistakenly cut with a feller buncher during a 45-minute span Dec. 19, 2014 on Christopher Road in East Wellington.

“The machine operator cut approximately 55 trees in the riparian area adjacent to McNeil Creek. Most of those trees were on the Avender property…” noted Supreme Court Justice Bruce Butler in his judgment. “After several months of denying that their operator cut trees on the Avender property, the defendants admitted to the trespass.”

The $80,000 awarded includes $20,000 in punitive damages. The plaintiffs had been asking for $66,000 but the defendants took “serious issue” with that figure and said that because the trespass was unintentional, there was “no proper basis” for punitive damages to be awarded.

“The defendants say the trespass was inadvertent and that they took reasonable steps to determine the property boundaries,” the court noted.

However, the judge found that the defendants did not make an attempt to obtain survey information, look for survey markers or make enough of an effort to determine the property line.

“The defendants’ actions leading to the trespass were reckless and careless,” the court noted. “While they did not intentionally cut trees on the Avender property, they were grossly negligent in deciding where to cut the timber.”

More than $22,600 of the money awarded is earmarked for purchasing and planting trees and shrubs and future plant restoration.

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