Valhalla neighbourhood path closure explained

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A pathway between Valhalla Road and the Meadowbrook seniors complex that was blocked off sometime around the end of February is likely to remain closed to the public, according to property representatives and Capital Regional District staff. 

Jenny McClean, a member of the family who owns the Atkins Road property, told the Driftwood a pedestrian pathway had never been permitted on the easement at the back of the lot. The family recently received information confirming that and therefore took steps to prevent public access.

Residents of the area like Mary Hughes said they have been surprised and dismayed to find part of the “Stevens Memorial Pathway” blocked after many years in use. Hughes frequently took the route and always believed it to be a public amenity.

“It’s been a favourite walk of ours, up Swanson to Atkins, appreciating the pathway up Atkins to Meadowbrook, along the asphalt walkway to that short gravelled narrow section leading to Valhalla, and on home. It’s been a great shortcut to get to Meaden Hall, Country Grocer and other destinations,” Hughes said.

Salt Spring Parks and Recreation manager Dan Ovington said there is an easement on title for Ganges Sewer along the back end of the property where the pathway connects to it. That easement does not include language that would require or permit access for pedestrian use, however. 

While the situation is unfortunate, Ovington said, it’s ultimately a case of private property rights.

“We have a lot of this on Salt Spring, where people have historically passed over private property and then the property is sold and the new owner doesn’t want the liability. And people get up in arms, but actually they’re trespassing,” Ovington said, speaking generally. 

The property in question has not been sold.

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