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Harbour Grace trailway development stopped over land dispute

Planning for the trail has been ongoing for about two years.
Planning for the trail has been ongoing for about two years. — Chris Lewis/The Compass

Ownership of property under investigation

HARBOUR GRACE, NL — Trailway development in Harbour Grace has come to a standstill in light of a land dispute.

During a regular council meeting held on Monday night, Nov. 6, Coun. Lyda Byrne came forward with concerns regarding rumours she’d heard about the town’s trailway development and a land dispute with a resident, which took place on Thursday, Nov. 2.

According to Byrne, the rumours stated that trailway development along Keefes Road in Bear’s Cove had come to a sudden stop following the incident. Prior to Monday's meeting, she had heard nothing from council about the issue.

Town CAO Michael Saccary confirmed the rumours had some truth to them, explaining the trail in question passed through land that may be private property.

“Apparently the family in question say it’s their land, and that in no way shape or form should a trail be going through there,” said Saccary. “So as a result, the gentleman got in the face of the workers themselves, certainly gave them a fright, and the best thing we could do was to pull them out of there.”

Saccary went on to explain that, as of Monday night, the issue had no been resolved, though some further investigation into the property had been carried out in previous months.

According to Saccary, there Crown Land in the area that had been leased to forefathers of the resident’s family. However, with the death of the recipient of the lease, said lease is no longer valid unless further documentation exists stating the land is still owned by the family. The town requested to see such documentation if it does exist.

Byrne went on to say that she was unhappy with the fact that she had heard of this through word of mouth around the community, rather than from council itself.

“I have to take issue with that, because as a member of council I shouldn’t have to hear that from third parties,” said Byrne. “Certainly, being appointed chair of parks and recreation, it’s not something that I should have heard outside of (council). I think as chair, a phone call was warranted.”

Mayor Don Coombs chimed in to note that he was advised of the incident Friday afternoon, Nov. 3, though Deputy Mayor Sonia Williams added that she heard of the incident from outside sources as well.

“If there’s any issues at all with the development, it’s slowing up our workers. We’re at the time of year where we can’t have any slow ups, so if there’s some issues, we need to be able to deal with it, and we can’t deal with it if we don’t know,” Byrnes added.

Saccary also added that plans for the trail had been in the works for about two years, and that Crown Land was a part of the planning process.

“That was all planned out, all the paperwork. We went through Crown Land, maps, the whole thing,” said Saccary. “We had more than one department say that everything was OK. It’s just that we had one resident who was upset, because he didn’t want to have any part of it.”

Coun. Kevin Williams brought up the fact that a private property sign was in place in the area, however, according to Saccary, the sign was erected after development had already begun.

Workers were working on a different section of the trailway as of Monday.

Near the end of the discussion, the deputy mayor added she felt as though police should be contacted if the matter remains unresolved.

“If we can’t resolve it, and somebody is down there in somebody’s face, we don’t need that,” said Sonia. “We don’t need workers that are going to be threatened, or whatever the case may be. We can’t keep our workers out of it, either, for that reason, if we’re talking about somebody that should be dealt with by the law.”

chris.lewis@cbncompass.ca

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