Barricaded Trails/Roads to Public Lakes or Rivers

mick_allen

Paddler & Moderator
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
3,258
There's a fascinating case being appealed in BC courts today with regards to a landowner gating historic trails and roads through his private lands to several public lakes.


and

[there's a link to the zoom court case at the page bottom]

The specific court case has been brewing for decades and there have been all sorts of interesting subtleties along the way . . . including flooding of the lake so that the new perimeter now is over private land giving total control of the lake notwithstanding other argumentation. Worth searching the back story out for entertaining reading. . . implications that both the RCMP and goverment agents might have been paid off in some manner.

Now of course, for us paddlers, this affects limited situations where small lakes that we might like to paddle on are totally enclosed - but there are also interesting situations where river access is shut down especially for WW paddlers. This is especially of concern where this access if important in order to bypass or reach river stretches that are more navigable or safe [or interesting!] to get on. And in the wider application it might even relate to 'right to roam' possibilities - but that might be too much to wish for. . . but historic trails and historic easements and rights of way??

As well, for us ocean paddlers, there are situations [I can think of at least one very important one] where if the ocean level raises so that certain lower levels are flooded, the new possibilities attained may be precluded to be utilized because they are over former private lands and that new beaches next to old may be shut right down. I know of one great site that has an infinitesimally narrow strip of private land across the frontage - will future access be attained? forbidden? Also there are reams of named 'public beaches' below or barely above the high tide line that butt up against private lands - what happens when the water rises? interesting, interesting.
 

Jurfie

Paddler
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
843
Location
Semiahmoo, South Surrey, BC
Very interesting, indeed. I would have thought changes in water levels over private property would result in eminent domain as the lake bed is Crown Land. Also, altering a fish bearing watercourse or lake is a big no-no in BC without approval from the Ministry of the Environment and DFO...curious if their modifications were authorized or not. A big fine (at least) should be in discussion, though I’m sure a billionaire won’t care.

Same goes for the coastal shoreline: as water levels rise, public access should be maintained as my understanding is anything up to the HHW line is public domain. No one can control the tides, so losing land (over many years) is just a fact of owning oceanfront property.

Thanks for the links, I’ll be sure to read them when I have the opportunity.
 

mick_allen

Paddler & Moderator
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
3,258
The fish are another interesting aspect of this: because the landowner stocked the lake, one argument was the fish now were the landowner's property and so the public objectors were engaged in theft from the landowner - he stocked the lake for his 'now' private and exclusive resort that he set up. That argument got knocked down in a previous hearing, [the lake was public so anything put in the lake had then to be considered as public as well] but what an interesting supposition. However I believe that was one of the arguments used by the landowner to get the RCMP to previously come down on anyone 'testing' the situation.

As far as water levels, there apparently is at least consideration that flooded waters over private land is still a private area and can be fenced etc. The limits of this [as you elucidate] hopefully will also come out in the case.
 

JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
2,651
Location
Victoria, BC
Same goes for the coastal shoreline: as water levels rise, public access should be maintained as my understanding is anything up to the HHW line is public domain. No one can control the tides, so losing land (over many years) is just a fact of owning oceanfront property.
That's my understanding also.
More of a concern to me is the government giving 'leases' of prime campsites (on Crown land) to private concerns, so that they can monopolize those sites for their own commercial kayaking activities.
 

Jurfie

Paddler
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
843
Location
Semiahmoo, South Surrey, BC
That's my understanding also.
More of a concern to me is the government giving 'leases' of prime campsites (on Crown land) to private concerns, so that they can monopolize those sites for their own commercial kayaking activities.
That's a good point as well. I'm sure the argument is that those commercial kayak companies are contributing to the tourist industry, therefore contributing more to the local economy; less so do we as lowly taxpayers (they already *have* our money, so this is a way to get some more out of the tourists).

The bigger discussion, perhaps then becomes: are we willing to forego our right to use of (the best) parts of our public lands for the greater good of the economy? I'd be curious what impact those operations have on the overall bottom line of the BC tourism economy. Arguably, if those dollars were not siphoned into the local economy, then our government would take more from us residents (though I doubt that).

This is veering towards a discussion perhaps best hashed out around a campfire with a whiskey in hand...if only we had access to one of those prime campsites. :wink:
 
  • Like
Reactions: CPS

mick_allen

Paddler & Moderator
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
3,258
If you mean 'tenure' when you mention 'leases' on public land it may be important to see the terms as all the tenures over public campsites I have seen do not give exclusive use, indeed public use never seems less than equal. . . it's just that tenure holder often tend to glom over what they can.

[However, glomming over public beaches/locations by adjacent private landowners is amazingly ubiquitous and is not only the purvey of tenure holders. It was/is amazing how much public land is encroached upon all over.]
 

mick_allen

Paddler & Moderator
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
3,258
Well this case was appealed to the BC Supreme Court and was lost. . . and sounds as if it might be appealed to the Canadian Supreme Court.
I'm not totally on the side of right to roam but in this case there were mapped trails adjacent [ but not touching ] to the lakes and the lakes are public. Anyway an interesting story that continues - and continues on the public's behalf by a tiny Fish and Game club that has held raffles and such in the past to support it's [the public's] fight.

 
Top