Pos­si­ble so­lu­tion in the works for Codroy Pond dis­pute

Ap­pli­ca­tion to be made for pub­lic ac­cess road through Crown land

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front Page - BY ROS­ALYN ROY

On Aug. 19, 1905, Michael Cormier of St. Ge­orge’s pur­chased a par­cel of land nes­tled close to Codroy Pond called lot 9.

It cost him $30.90 for the land and an­other $1 for the pro­cess­ing fee.

Over 100 years later this bit of land, or rather a rough gravel road that runs through part of it, has be­come a bit­ter ly con­tested dis­pute be­tween the pub­lic seek­ing ac­cess to the pond and lo­cal cot­tage owner Charles Brake.

Last sum­mer Justin Smith formed a Face­book group called “Help Get Ac­cess Back to Codroy Pond”.

It was there that peo­ple brain­stormed ways to ac­cess the pop­u­lar pond through le­gal chan­nels.

How­ever, up to the end of that sum­mer and de­spite sup­port from St. Ge­orge’s -Hum­ber MHA Scott Reid, noth­ing had been re­solved.

One year later, group mem­ber Brenda Gale be­lieves the so­lu­tion may be a sim­ple one, al­though likely a bit costly.

“Build­ing a new road is the eas­i­est fix for the sit­u­a­tion,” she says, adding, “The bat­tle is not be­tween (us and) who owns the land. Who­ever owns the land and this gen­tle­man ( Brake) need to deal with that. That’s a court sit­u­a­tion.”

Gale, who is a small busi­ness owner and ac­cus­tomed to deal­ing with red tape, has spent con­sid­er­able time re­search­ing orig­i­nal land grants and leg­is­la­tion sur­round­ing Codroy Pond.

She says she and her part­ner, Gar­ri­son Hall, were al­most in­jured when try­ing to visit the pond last year. They were rid­ing in her fa­ther’s new sideby-side with Hall at the wheel when sud­denly he slammed on the brakes, star­tling Gale who had been en­joy­ing the scenery rather than mind­ing the road.

“I look out and there’s this big, mas­sive hole dug right in the road,” re­calls Gale, who fully be­lieves she and her boyfriend would have been badly in­jured or worse had Hall not spot­ted it in time.

“I’ve ex­plained this to the gov­ern­ment. It’s go­ing to take some­one who doesn’t know that this is hap­pen­ing to get killed there, or get very badly hurt,” said Gale. “Some­thing has to be done be­fore some­one gets killed.”

Once she learned the his­tory of the road, she reached out to Justin Smith and his group in an ef­fort to help.

“He’s not fight­ing to get it for him­self. He’s fight­ing to get it for every­one,” said Gale. “I re­ally be­lieve the gov­ern­ment should have stepped in at this point, if not long ago.”

While the prop­erty sur­round­ing the cur­rent and only pri­vate ac­cess road is in dis­pute, the fact is provin­cial law pro­vides for 10-me­tre buf­fer zone around wa­ter­ways, such as ponds or lakes, as cited in “Stat­ues of New­found­land 1991 Part 1 Chap­ter 36 Para­graph 7.”

In ad­di­tion, there is a buf­fer zone on ei­ther side of the provin­cial T’Rail­way that runs through the province. In the case of Codroy Pond, the T’Rail­way runs par­al­lel to the Trans- Canada High­way and even part of the dis­puted ac­cess road, and that buf­fer zone also can­not be im­peded.

“There are mul­ti­ple buf­fers in and around that zone,” Gale told the Gulf news in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “The eas­i­est and fastest way to get this fixed is to ap­ply to have a new road built.”

Punch­ing through a des­ig­nated pub­lic ac­cess road that skirts the dis­puted land en­tirely is not go­ing to be cheap or easy. And then there’s the red tape.

“Some­one has to ap­ply,” said Gale about the process in­volved. “The peo­ple of the province or whomever wants this road has to pay for it, which I think is a bit ridicu­lous.”

Gale has been in touch with both Reid and Smith, and all three have agreed it is likely the best so­lu­tion.

Smith con­firmed he will in­deed re­quest the road on be­half of the pub­lic.

“Yes, I do have an ap­pli­ca­tion filled out, but haven’t started any­thing to fundraise the fee for the ap­pli­ca­tion,” he said.

Smith hopes to sub­mit the ap­pli­ca­tion soon. Once the provin­cial gov­ern­ment grants ap­proval, the group will likely have to fundraise to cover the cost of the road.

Smith says Gale’s work on be­half of the group has made a dif­fer­ence.

“She has been so good for us this year, (she’s) been un­real. She’s God-sent, that’s for sure.”

Reid says part of the prob­lem is that while the dis­puted ac­cess road was tra­di­tion­ally used by the pub­lic to visit the pond, it was never ac­tu­ally des­ig­nated for this.

The MHA be­lieves the orig­i­nal road was likely used for log­ging and does not lead to a des­ig­nated provin­cial camp­ing area or park.

“I checked it out last year and as far as I could find out the road wasn’t a pub­licly main­tained road,” said Reid dur­ing a phone in­ter­view. “I can re­mem­ber go­ing there as a child my­self, and it was an area that was com­monly used, so I think there is a lot of nos­tal­gia cer­tainly.”

Reid says he agrees with the idea of put­ting a new pub­lic ac­cess road in through Crown land sur­round­ing the pond.

“I would sup­port any­thing that can be done to sort of main­tain ac­cess to that area so peo­ple can use it,” said Reid. “I think what the group is think­ing is prob­a­bly the only way to find a so­lu­tion to this.”

Reid did ad­mit the group will have to pay for the road it­self, but says it’s prob­a­bly the only way to en­sure they get what they want.

“We’re hav­ing a hard time get­ting money to main­tain the ones (roads) we have now. It would be prob­lem­atic, I would think, try­ing to get funds to put in a new road in that area,” said Reid, who would also like to visit the pond for per­sonal re­cre­ation. “I would make a small con­tri­bu­tion of my per­sonal funds just to help with the cost.”

Like many oth­ers, Gale spent many hours swim­ming and play­ing at the pond when she was grow­ing up. Her fa­ther used to work for CN Rail­ways and lived in the small com­mu­nity that used to ex­ist near the pond. She just wants to be able to en­joy the beach again.

“The fact that we will have to pay for the new road I think is a bit crazy, but hey, if it gets us ac­cess that will be good.”

“The fact that we will have to pay for the new road I think is a bit crazy, but hey, if it gets us ac­cess that will be good.”

– Brenda Gale

J. R. ROY/SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

The shal­low, warm waters and sandy beach of Codroy Pond make it a pop­u­lar sum­mer­time han­gout for fam­i­lies.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF BRENDA GALE

Gar­ri­son Hall and Brenda Gale at Codroy Pond.

J. R. ROY/SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Justin Smith has been spear­head­ing the cam­paign to re­gain pub­lic ac­cess to Codroy Pond.

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