Private property that encloses Crown property will remain closed to the public, following the Supreme Court of Canada’s refusal last week to hear an appeal of a ruling that protects Douglas Lake Ranch from trespassers.
Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club members hoped the country’s highest court would hear an appeal of a BC Court of Appeal ruling earlier this year that overturned a 2018 judgment that said they were permitted to cross Douglas Lake’s property to access Crown waters.
Instead, it decided to let stand the BC court’s decision, which firmly rejected the popular notion of a “right to roam” in order to access Crown lands in BC.
“BC Cattlemen are pleased with the decision,” says BC Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon. “Crossing someone’s private land should be a privilege not a right.”
Ranch lands are managed with a view to enhancing environmental values as well as the well-being and productivity of cattle. The recent court rulings ensure ranchers can continue managing their lands without interference.
“Farmers and ranchers in BC go to a lot of work and expense to protect and steward not only their private lands, but also Crown lands which are under their care,” says Boon. “[They] deserve to have the ability to ensure that those who have access and/or use these lands respect them and the values of their caretakers.”
Denial of the latest appeal marks the end of a court saga that began in April 2013 when the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club petitioned for access to the waters of Minnie and Stoney lakes. The petition sought to resolve the question of access, which intensified following the closure in 1990 of road access to the two lakes.