Another setback in the courts for UBC Okanagan in a five-year legal battle over a “back door” access route to the Kelowna campus. Curtis Road connects Glenmore to the university and is used by many cyclists and pedestrians. But now, all public use of the road may be banned.
It all dates back to 2010 when a group of property owners sued the institution saying cyclists and pedestrians were trespassing on the private easement road. The court ruling allowed some public use of the road but with restrictions. Only people who work and attend class in the two buildings closest to the access road were given the green light to use it.
Even with the restriction, the residents weren’t satisfied and went back to court arguing the university didn’t do enough to enforce it. The residents say the number of users actually increased. Now a BC Supreme Court judge has ordered a suspension of all public use on the road unless the university takes steps to comply with the restriction.
The university is now working on more signage warning people they are trespassing. UBC Okanagan is also launching a communications campaign to strongly encourage compliance.
“We have two weeks to convince the courts that we have a plan that we believe will work to reduce the traffic that is using this,” says UBCO spokesperson Bud Mortenson.
“We have not learned yet how they intend to monitor or measure that traffic flow as a result of our enhanced communication.”
The courts have given the university until February 16th to adhere to the restriction but if people insist on trespassing, it could result in a full public ban.
“They run the risk of creating a situation where everyone loses access, “ says Mortenson.
There is some relief on the way. The City of Kelowna will start the design phase of the extension of John Hindle Road this year. The new road will connect Glenmore to Highway 97 at UBC-O. That will provide another route to the campus. Construction is expected to begin sometime next year.
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