Re: Paid advertorial in the Jan.6 issue of the Record titled “Save Stotan Falls”
Stotan Falls has been privately owned for 140 years, initially as part of the E &N land grant. It has known a succession of different owners during this time. All of these have let generations of adults and children delight in the beauty of the falls. The current owner, 3L too, let us enjoy it for 10 years. Then in January of 2019, after failing to convince the Regional District to approve a rezoning for a large subdivision that was unsupported by the Regional Growth Strategy, 3L posted ”no trespassing” signage and hired “employees” to verbally advise that entry to Stotan Falls was forbidden. (In B.C. law, trespassing is not illegal until signage and/or verbal warning are posted).
3L’s claim that landowners have “serious legal liability to the owner in allowing public access” is false. The “Occupier’s Liability Act” of B.C. states clearly that unless an owner is either charging money for recreational use, or intentionally creating a situation of harm, the Act protects them from legal liability (3.0 – 1,2). It further states that a person who trespasses on vacant, rural land for recreational purposes “is deemed to have willingly assumed all risks” and the owner is subject only to the “duty of care” to refrain from creating a danger with intent to harm or “to act with reckless disregard to the safety of the person or property”
If it is not true that 3L (or any landowner) has statuary liability towards trespassers, why then is 3L giving us this spin? I suggest that Stotan Falls is being “held hostage” in the hope that people will sign the petition to request Courtenay City Council to annex 3L’s property and approve yet another half-baked development proposal. This a desperate course change that is bound to fail. To those of you who have signed the petition, know that you are being used. Stotan Falls is not going anywhere.
As to the threat that it might be “lost forever” 3L need only take down its signs, and Stotan Falls will be freed.