Sherry Baird feels like she’s battling Goliath as she tries to keep a laneway access to her View Royal home.
An unpaved strip of land separates her Prince Robert Drive backyard from property on Island Highway that the Town bought for its future fire hall.
Accessible from Heddle Drive, the lane dead-ends behind Baird’s property where her husband parks a commercial truck for his construction business.
Officially it’s BC Hydro right-of-way land, though a handful of neighbours want to buy it and establish a private road. But the Town has the right of first refusal to purchase the property.
Mayor Graham Hill confirmed the Town is negotiating with Hydro to buy the land. He was tight lipped about future plans for the property.
“This is a work in progress, and it wouldn’t be proper for me to speculate what will or won’t be done there,” Hill said.
He did say he couldn’t guarantee the road access would be maintained.
Baird is afraid the strip will be lumped into the firehall property or designated as a park — closing out vehicle access in both scenarios.
“They’re already building a fire hall in our backyard, and they have to take this from us too?” Baird lamented.
She has a petition ready to present at the June 21 council meeting with signatures of property owners opposed to the Town buying the land. The petition also opposes a proposed bylaw to change the designation of municipal property at the north end of Heddle Avenue, where a walking trail connects to the Island Highway, from a road right-of-way to a park. The park’s boundary would extend just far enough to block the access road.
Baird says the petition is just the beginning. She plans to take the Town to court if she’s prevented from using the lane.
“It’s become my personal crusade,” she said, opening a filing box with three years of correspondence with the town, neighbours and other stakeholders about the lane. “If they think I’ll give up fighting this, I won’t. I’ll keep at this until our access is guaranteed.”
Hill said the Town needs to act in the best interest of all its residents and fears turning the lane over to private buyers could cause trouble down the road.
“We don’t want to set a precedent of that sort,” Hill said.