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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Council to consider temporary lane closure

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A municipally owned lane leading to Kalamalka Lake in Oyama, B.C., is facing a temporary closure this summer. A council decision on the matter will be made on June 15 after public input has been collected, the Lake Country Calendar reported. Individuals seeking beach access have been mistaking a private driveway for the public lane and unknowingly trespassing on private property.

A public lane does exist in the area but Stephen Banmen, chief financial officer for the District, says that it's only accessible by cutting through private property and that a considerable amount of foliage would need to be cut down to make it more noticeable.

The problem was amplified at the end of March when Kelowna Pacific Railway closed a bridge on Evans Road to all traffic. A nearby property owner is now allowing his neighbors to use his private driveway, which runs parallel to the railroad, to access their homes on the other side of Evans Road that the bridge closure has cut off.

The problem is that the new railroad crossing being used is adding to the confusion over where the public lane is and the trespassing problem is growing.

As part of an agreement with the property owner to allow the neighbors to continue to use the private driveway to access their homes, the District is seeking to temporarily close the public lane to alleviate the trespassing. The foreshore area that the lane leads to will still be accessible by boat.

Banmen says that decades ago, when CN was laying the railroad track, the company had to build a bridge on Evans Road to provide access to the homes that lost theirs when the track bisected Evans Road. The wooden bridge is several decades old and has received minimal maintenance over the years. A recent analysis by a District-hired engineering firm estimates that the bridge can hold just two tons-approximately the weight of a small car.

KPR has told the District that it would repair the bridge to hold 10 tons but Banmen says that the bridge is the responsibility of the railway and it needs to be repaired to meet whatever the affected residents needs are.

KPR was unable to be reached for comment.

Banmen says the District, the railroad and the owner of the private driveway are now exploring options to create a new permanent crossing out of the one that is currently being used.