Beddis area residents seek private road resolution

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People living near Beddis Beach and Creekside Drive are calling upon the provincial government to intervene in a property dispute impacting the main access route to their neighbourhood.

A petition that had gained 118 signatures as of last week asks the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) “to exercise its legal jurisdiction over and responsibility for” a section of roadway that passes through Laughing Apple Farm at 900 Beddis Rd., which the owners say is private property.

The petitioners state the ministry must direct its contractors to immediately recommence maintenance of that section; remove “private road” and “use at your own risk” signs; and remove speed bumps and rocks placed at the ends of those speed bumps or humps.  

The petition asserts “allowing this owner to continue the illegal road obstruction without consequences sets a very unfortunate precedent for the hundreds of kilometres of similar public roads over private lands throughout British Columbia. We the undersigned ask that MoTI reassert proper public control over this public road, for the safety of residents and visitors alike.” 

Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen submitted the petition to the B.C. Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

“Residents of the neighbourhood are requesting the Ministry of Transportation to address a long-standing issue with respect to the road and road ownership. This has been going on for a long, long period of time. This is the neighbourhood asking MoTI to step in and assist the neighbourhood,” Olsen said.

Laughing Apple Farm owners Brian Swanson and Mary Laucks had the speed bumps created in 2016 to calm traffic in front of their farm, citing excessive speeds and the fact the road had never been dedicated as a public highway. 

“Before we had the humps, some people used to drive at high speed (over 100 km/hr) on the straight stretch of our road, and most people did not slow down near our gate where there is a curve with less visibility. We felt unsafe crossing the road at our gate,” Laucks and Swanson told the Driftwood.

”Another reason that we installed the humps was so that the many people who enjoy walking and riding their bikes on the road would feel more safe and be able to enjoy the rural landscape. We thought we were enhancing this section of the road.”

MoTI appeared to have difficulty determining whether its contractors had been performing maintenance on that stretch of road at the time of the installation. Doing so would make the roadway a public highway even if it had never been formally dedicated, according to provincial law. 

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure was unable to provide an update on the situation before the Driftwood’s press deadline.

For more on this story, see the April 28, 2021 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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