View of the Nicola Valley near Merritt. (FancyLady/Flickr)

B.C. company fights court order to allow public access to Nicola Valley lakes

Legal battle between fish and game club, cattle firms takes another twist

A legal battle between a British Columbia fish and game club and one of the world’s largest cattle firms has taken another twist as the two sides fight over access to two public lakes.

Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club director Rick McGowan says the Douglas Lake Cattle Company intends to appeal a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that found the company illegally blocked access to Stoney and Minnie lakes east of Merritt.

McGowan says grounds of the appeal aren’t yet clear and he expects it could be a month or two before the club receives any paperwork.

Fish and game club members are disappointed because McGowan says the club has already spent more than $270,000 fighting in court for access to the lakes.

READ MORE: Judge rules private landowners can’t block public access to B.C. lake

The dispute began nearly three decades ago when Douglas Lake Cattle locked out members of the club by decommissioning and gating a road over its land, even though that was the only route to the lakes.

In a ruling issued in December, Justice Joel Groves found the provincial government retains rights to the lakes, that the fish are public property and public access is required.

The judge chided the province in the decision for failing to protect the interests of British Columbians, writing “it is most unfortunate that all governments holding the obligation of the public trust have failed to take any actions to prohibit what was an illegal obstruction of a public road by a corporate entity, for its own benefit.”

A spokesman for the Douglas Lake Cattle Company confirmed an appeal of the ruling had been filed, but said he could not comment further. (CHNL, The Canadian Press)

The Canadian Press


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