The owner of a Lillooet-area property has won a long court battle to have the only road between D’Arcy and Seton Portage declared a public highway.
B.C. Supreme Court justice Loryl Russell declared the Douglas Trail Road along Anderson Lake “a public highway” in a judgment released this week.
She credited landowner Wolfgang Skutnik, who was self-represented.
“His petition is the culmination of his diligent and selfless efforts to ensure his community has safe public road access and to remove the burden of road maintenance that has fallen to his community.”
The province did not oppose the application. The only opponent was the St’at’imc Chiefs Council, which opposed the declaration as a provincial highway.
The 24-kilometer road was first constructed more than six decades ago by B.C. Electric Company, a private corporation, following an existing historic trail.
Russell ruled there was a long history of public travel on the road as well as some public money spent on its maintenance. Skutnik’s family purchased the property in the late 1970s.
In its opposition, the tribal council noted B.C. Hydro at one point in its history erected signage on the road, declaring it private and advising users to travel at their own risk.
But Russell said there was significant evidence that public money was spent now and again on its maintenance.
The B.C. Supreme Court justice also ruled the tribal council did not have standing to raise “its cultural grievances with the Crown.” She declined to consider constitutional questions.