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General News · 21st April 2017
Catriona Vega & Radio Sean
I was disappointed to see the article about the Olmstead road land/access situation removed, as I believe this is an important conversation to continue. These issues come up from time to time here on Cortes, and it always feels like we are missing puzzle pieces required to really understand what's going on….
What exactly are the rules concerning public access across land? Does Canada have access rights based on historical access like in the UK? What is the difference between an easement, a road allowance and a right-of-way? And which of these allow for public access? And most important in this current situation; which of these affects the property in question? I'm as confused as everyone else about this…. I understand there's a big difference between a property with a titled easement and a property bisected by a road allowance, but I don't understand which of them I'm legally allowed to walk on.
What we really need right now is for someone who has the answers to these questions to weigh in and enlighten us all. Why the silence from the regional district? Where is our director or alternate director with a statement? A link to a map which shows the area with its associated easements etc. would be very helpful.
It is human nature to jump to conclusions based on whatever information is at hand, and over the last week we've all heard a lot of rhetoric and misinformation from all sides in this debacle upon which to base our misguided opinions. It would be wonderful to have some real facts and information instead.

Sean Coyote and Catriona Vega
The map I posted of the end of Jocelyn is from
Comment by Mike Malek 202 5020 on 21st April 2017
Map is from RD cortes community plan. Google that it's at the end of the 80 page document. Hopefully this will keep people from deviating from the road allowance. The trail from Fawns to omstead is a totally different trail.
Historical trails??
Comment by Jack Wills on 21st April 2017
A little history.........
I was one of the first residents in the Olmstead Rd. area in 1996. It was known then as the Raven subdivision, as Raven had recently clear-cut the area and was selling off lots. At that time, I had a 1500 foot long phone bush line. There was Hydro, but no B.C Tel service line beyond a short distance on Olmstead Rd from Coulter Bay Rd.
There were no historically used trails there then. After the logging and prior to subdivision, we did use the old logging road (now Olmstead Rd) to access the top of Robertson RD from Coulter Bay Rd. Tim Taunt ran his excavator from there to my old place on Harbour Rd in 1985. We used to collect firewood in the area, salvaging the abandoned trees from the cut.
Easements- Road allowances - Private Property
Comment by K Albert, SRD on 21st April 2017
Hello Catriona and Sean,

I do not regularly access the tideline so won't always respond to questions posted here. However, if you or other Cortes Islanders have questions about land use, please feel free to contact the SRD office and we will do our best to answer your questions.

With respect to the questions in your article, Don Tennant answered them very well. Here is a bit of further clarification:

BC does not have public access rights based on historic use like the UK.

An easement is granted by a property owner to allow access to an adjoining property that may be landlocked or where steep terrain does not otherwise allow for access from a public road. That easement is an agreement between those two property owners. It does not give the public a right of access.

An easement (also called a statutory right-of-way if granted to a public agency) may also be granted for public infrastructure such as sewer, water, power, or a public trail or park.

A road allowance or road right-of-way (same thing), whether developed with a road or not, is public land and the public has a right of access to that land. Private property owners may have driveway permits on undeveloped road rights-of-way to allow them to access their properties. However, they may not exclude the public from using that portion of the driveway that is within the road right-of-way.

I hope this helps. If you have other questions, please email me at kalbert,,, This is a very busy time for us at the SRD - we have a large number of projects on the go - but I will do my best to get back to you within a few days.
Karin Albert, SRD Planner

Two properties under discussion?
Comment by Catriona Vega on 21st April 2017
Thanks Don and Carole for the clarifications. I have a feeling there are two properties in the area that have been under discussion on the Tideline that may be getting mixed into ONE in people's minds. I am wondering if the other has the trail you are mentioning Mike. I imagine those used to walking the trail across the private properties are feeling dissappointed as it makes for a long walk around. It would be so great if an alternate solution could be found/created. It can be less than easy to meet everyone's needs to be sure. Catriona
Easements, right of way, and so on
Comment by Don Tennant on 20th April 2017
Catriona asked: What exactly are the rules concerning public access across land? Does Canada have access rights based on historical access like in the UK?

No, that's specific to the UK. In Canada, if the private property owner posts "No Tresspassing " signs, or tells you verbally that you aren't allowed on their land, that's about it.

What is the difference between an easement, a road allowance and a right-of-way?

An easement is granted to a party to access landlocked property, or to a municipal government, or a utility for sewer, water, or power . Additionally easement is granted due to necessity, not convenience, so, if the land can be accessed without crossing the other parties property, an easement may not be granted.

And which of these allow for public access?

If there is public access granted voluntarily by a private landowner, then, and only then can the public enter the land.

And most important in this current situation; which of these affects the property in question?

Sounds like the land in question is private property, so that's that. The owners want to limit access, and they are within their rights to do so.

There are plenty of examples on Cortes where private property owners have allowed trails to cross their land. I really doubt that this access was granted via public shaming of the land owners.

Don Tennant
Not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to be.
Two battles at once
Comment by Mike Malek 202 5020 on 20th April 2017
One is a road allowance, new trail opening. 0ne is a long used friendly trail crossing private land, closing.
I'm not the expert your looking for on this I'm quite sure.
NO easement and NO road allowance either
Comment by Carol J Lewis on 20th April 2017
Please note that there is no easement nor is there a road allowance on the property the article was about. As mentioned in the article, we have an easement registered against a neighbour's property to exit the upper corner of our property onto Olmstead Road. But there is nothing on title on our property ie an easement, a covenant,a right of way, shares in our property or anything of that nature. It is a piece of private property.