Courts ban UBC students from Curtis Road extension

The Supreme Court of B.C. sided with a group of Kelowna residents in what lawyer Tom Smithwick is calling a "David and Goliath" battle.

A longstanding dispute between the UBC and a group of Smithwick-represented Curtis Road residents was settled Thursday, in a decision that stops pedestrians and cyclists from using a privately owned extension off Curtis Road to access the UBCO campus.

University representatives had taken the position that they and their students had every right to cross the easement area as they chose, but the courts ruled in favour of area residents who said only only private right away was granted.

"The respondent (UBC) has no right thereunder to hold out to any person that the right of way is other than a private right of way on private land nor to allow any person to use the right of way in a manner inconsistent with the private right of way," reads the ruling, sent out by Tom Smithwick, the lawyer representing residents.

Not only will students and cyclists who have used the alternate route to the university lose out, UBCO organized field trips and or running races and other general public race activities will be verboten.

"For greater clarity, the use of the easement as a private right of way does not include use of it for field trips to Robert Lake, nor  does it include use of it as part of a running race course. Further, it does not include using it for exercise walking or cycling."

The residents of Curtis Road have had difficulty with enforcement over the past 10 years in order to prevent this illegal trespass due to the UBCO position.

"Now that the court has made this order, it's clear that this gravel driveway easement is a private lane and the general public has no right of access for recreational or passage purposes and people who are desiring access to the UBCO property in order to gain access to the general university buildings and lands are not allowed to use the easement as their means of access or egress," said Smithwick.


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