How much power can one man wield? This is a question dozens of Pritchard families are likely asking themselves as a long-in-the-works paving project on Martin Prairie Road sits idle.
On one side of the dispute are residents who petitioned the province for years to have a 2.5-kilometre section of the road paved. On the other is a lone rancher who says he has rights to an unpaved section of road.
The problem: washboarding and potholes along the unpaved portion are a risk to motorists. There are stories of some being bucked off the gravel route.
Paving began about two weeks ago, but crews had to desist when they reached Lee Milne's property line. Milne, who's father owned the ranch before him, claims the unpaved stretch crosses his property and he won't let crews finish paving until Martin Prairie is made safer.
What Milne means by safer remains a mystery, as he's not responded to requests for an interview.
In cases like this, the issue usually pits neighbour against neighbour. This time around, the matter is one of a community against one man -Milne. Even if he has his supporters, they are certainly keeping quiet.
No wonder he's keeping a low profile.
So the paving of Martin Prairie Road is on hold. The province wants to review historical records and find out who has right of way on the unpaved section. There is no word on how long this process will take.
If it takes too long, Thompson-Nicola Regional District director Ken Gillis fears the province might pass on finishing what it started.
The question on everyone's mind is how can one man hold up a project that is a matter of
public safety? And it's a valid one, especially given that the majority of residents want the road paved.
Resident Jerry Lamar told The Daily News Milne's dad sold off the property where Martin Prairie crosses decades ago. If this sort of thing is known in the community, then surely there must be records available somewhere that can help bring this silly dispute to a rapid end.