Public Access to Public Lands

The Outdoor Recreation Council (ORC) came to the ELC last year with a growing concern over the loss of public access to public land. In order to access many of the public lakes and wild places around the province, it is necessary to cross through privately owned lands, permission for which private landowners have traditionally given or are part of permissions to use adjacent public lands. Gradually, these points of access are being blocked or fenced off.

For many people, participating in outdoor activities in wild areas is a big part of living in BC. But whether you hike, bike or fish, the right to roam in wild places is being curtailed more often, according to the ORC, which works to protect the outdoor recreation way of life in BC.

In response, the ELC prepared a report suggesting some options for change. Enhancing Public Access to Privately Owned Wild Lands discusses a number of potential solutions and provides examples of how the access problem has been addressed in other jurisdictions.

Media covered the issue when the report was released – and even called on the government to legislate the right of access to public land. We’ve heard from other concerned groups and individuals throughout the province, including outdoor clubs who thanked us for gathering all the information together, and a Geography professor who wanted to incorporate the document into their teaching.

The ORC, which represents more than 100,000 individuals in its 40 member groups, is now using the report to develop and recommend policies for improving access to public lands.

We are glad this work is having an impact, and we look forward to keeping you updated on what happens next.