A walker passes what's left of an attempt to block off public access to a portion of the KVR Trail through Kaleden.

A walker passes what's left of an attempt to block off public access to a portion of the KVR Trail through Kaleden.

Access restored to KVR Trail through Kaleden

Province steps in to remove barrier placed across alternate public route around private property at centre of land-swap dispute

New roadblocks were thrown up last week on a portion of the KVR Trail through Kaleden.

The section of trail near the north end of Alder Street has for nearly two years been at the centre of a dispute as the property owners and B.C. government work out a land swap in the vicinity. Last weekend, however, accesses to the trail across both public and private land were blocked with fencing.

“It caused a big flap over the weekend, lots of phone calls and emails, and upset trail users from as far away as Alberta who got all the way down on their horses and found they had to go all the way back,” said Tom Siddon, the area director for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

“That is no way to achieve your ends, by throwing it in the face of the public and blocking public use in the middle of summer to an asset that’s important to us all,” he said.

“It’s not our dispute to resolve,” Siddon added, “and so we’re kind of at a loss.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations confirmed the agency sent in workers this week to restore public access along the Skaha Lake foreshore that skirts private property.

“The province is committed to maintaining public access to this highly valued recreation trail,” Brennan Clarke said in a statement.

He said the province “has made every reasonable effort to find a solution to this issue,” and that discussions with the property owners “on a possible land exchange have resumed. “

A gate blocking access to the trail across private property was also reopened as of Saturday morning. It’s unclear what prompted the latest closures.

Debi McGinn and Andrew Brice, who couldn’t be reached for comment, purchased the Kaleden property from CP Rail in December 2010. A year later, they blocked their portion of the KVR Trail to apply pressure to the B.C. government to complete the land swap.

Access was restored in March 2012 when negotiations resumed.

“We wanted to provide the trail, but we wanted fair compensation for it,” McGinn told the Western News at the time.