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Property owner brings parking dispute to Ashcroft council

Owner of former Skip’s Garage building wants no parking in front of property
The owner of this property on Third Street brought a dispute about parking in front of the building to Ashcroft council at its Aug. 22 meeting. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Parking on Third Street

An Ashcroft man has rejected a proposal from the Village of Ashcroft to solve a parking dispute on Third Street.

At a delegation at the council meeting on Aug. 22, John Van Beers aired his frustrations over the issue, which he said has been ongoing for years. Van Beers, who owns the former Skip’s Garage building across from the B.C. Liquor store on Third, said people are parking illegally in front of his property. When he has asked them to move, he said, he received death threats and insults.

“You can blow a cannon down a street and not hit anything in this village. It’s very quiet, there’s parking anywhere you want,” Van Beers said. “The only place that has an issue is my property because the liquor store and the bakery are across from me.”

The Village of Ashcroft proposed installing a sidewalk and a curb with drop downs in front of Van Beers’ building to clearly mark what is public parking and what is private parking. However, Van Beers said that he didn’t accept the village’s assertion that the parking area in question is public. When he bought the property in 2006 he said it had been used as private parking for decades.

“Is it either my private access or is it public property? Because it can’t be both,” Van Beers said.

Mayor Barbara Roden said such disputes have arisen in the past and the village has worked to resolve cases where the traditional use of private property has encroached on public property. She told Van Beers his property ends at the property line and that everything beyond that along Third Street is public property.

“Just because it is traditional usage does not mean it is correct or lawful,” Roden said.

Van Beers requested that the village provide, in writing, confirmation that he does not own the land in question. He then threatened legal action to dispute the claim, alleging that losing that parking would decrease the value of his property.

Coun. Nadine Davenport said that everyone is on the same page that something needs to be done. She advised Van Beers to reconsider rejecting the proposal.

“I’m suggesting it may not be ideal for you, it may not be exactly what you’re proposing at this moment, but this is really truly a benefit for your business, the liquor store, the bakery, and people in general,” Davenport said.

Davenport noted that adjustments fixed similar parking disputes at the Ashcroft Fire Hall and the Ashcroft I.D.A. Pharmacy. Roden agreed this was the best option and said she was sympathetic towards the harassment Van Beers has received.

“It’s untenable for this to continue, obviously, because there have been threats of violence and we do not want that in any way, shape, or form,” Roden said.

Ashcroft RCMP to return to full strength

The Ashcroft RCMP detachment will be fully staffed by the fall.

The detachment’s acting commander, Corp. Cory Lepine, announced this during his quarterly update to the Village of Ashcroft council last week. Lepine said the reinforcements are long in coming and will be welcomed by the whole detachment.

“As council knows, we’ve operated on a deficit with manpower for quite some time, but I’m happy to report that as of the first of October we’ll be at full strength again,” Lepine said. “That consists of four constables, a new corporal, and myself as detachment commander. We’re pretty excited to have everybody back on board.”

Lepine said the new officers will join the three members of the B.C. highway patrol stationed out of Ashcroft. They’ll be busy, as Ashcroft RCMP has already responded to 122 traffic contacts since March 2022, mostly near the exits of Hwy. 97C.

“That’s quite substantial considering there are [only] four regular members that deal with all calls for service,” Lepine said.

As the school year begins, Lepine said RCMP will be paying special attention to the area around Desert Sands Community School. He said they’ve had reports of people running stop signs in the area and would like to reduce such activity through community education.

Outside of traffic-related complaints, Lepine said the detachment has responded to only 1,196 calls so far compared to 1,326 last year. They’ve also only charged 38 people with crimes, compared with 46 last year.

“Those are all positive things in nature,” Lepine said. “I believe, and I have no data to support this, that a lot of additional calls for service last year were generated by the wildfires and COVID restrictions.”

As winter approaches, Lepine said he intends to focus on issues related to the community’s homeless population. He said that working with their partners to get ahead of any issues is key before winter comes.

Roden said that being homeless is not a crime and Lepine agreed, noting that some people choose to live on the streets.

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