Reclaiming waterfront public access points

(L to R) ELC Articled Student Renata Colwell, ELC Clinic Student Kelly Twa, ELC Legal Director Calvin Sandborn, and client John Roe from the Veins of Life Watershed Society

In 2016, the ELC released a report highlighting the problem of blocking access to public land (Enhancing public access to privately owned wild lands). But accessing public spaces in the city can also be a problem – even when the municipality owns the land in question.

In February, ELC student Kelly Twa addressed Saanich Council to address this issue and presented a report the ELC prepared in 2017 on behalf of the Veins of Life Watershed Society. The report highlights several places along the Gorge Inlet where access to public waterfront land has been obstructed. It calls upon the municipalities involved to investigate the issue with the long-term plan of restoring access to these public spaces.

Since Kelly’s presentation, our client advises, a number of private individuals have stepped forward and offered to help in the restoration of these access points.

It was a privilege to speak to Saanich council and shed light on this issue of encroachment that is depriving the public of valuable waterfront property. …it has been a great experience to work with the ELC and the Veins of Life Watershed Society to make sure that the public is informed about this loss of land and to push the municipalities to take action. I was happy that the District of Saanich appeared to be receptive to our findings and I hope that they take steps in the near future to preserve these green spaces and prevent future encroachment. 

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