East Coast Trail attack misinformed

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The misinformed attack on the integrity of the esteemed registered charity, East Coast Trail Association, by a disgruntled spokesperson for the developer of land at Ragged Beach is deserving of retort. (“East Coast Trail Association has lost its way,” Aug. 21).

Vladimir Putin has a better claim to land in the Ukraine than the developer has to land where the East Coast Trail meanders through at Ragged Beach, Witless Bay.

The trail referred to by the developer has been a public trail widely used by residents of the area for more than 100 years. There are additional trails in the vicinity of land claimed by the developer that are also public trails, and not trails to their land as previously claimed by encroaching developers.

It appears that in the developer’s world, repeated simple repetition of a claim will attach credibility to it.

The developer seems to have forgotten the law of the land we witless inhabitants accept as the norm. The developer’s claim to land at Ragged Beach, through which the East Coast Trail meanders, is grounded in a small patch of land used for occasional trespass potato growing.

It is more than likely that Crown Lands has a claim based in documented history.

We are now led to believe that potato gardens grow along with the potatoes. I used that trick once with a fish I caught and kept in my freezer, and that grew as I continued to tell my great fish-catch story.

I notice that the developers were recently down on the public trail talking to hikers and attempting to cement their claim to the magic potato growing garden.

In local parlance, “oh me nerves.”

The developers may have a claim to a small potato patch.

However, claiming land that is a conservation area along a stream held as sacred ground by residents, is absurd.

Purchasing land from someone who does not have title, with no history of title, and where only occasional trespass occurred is not prudent.

It is not wise to blame a community, a town council and an esteemed charity for title shortcomings.

Criticizing a charity dedicated to protecting public shoreline from encroaching developers is sure to gain popularity with the residents — how is that going?

The East Coast Trail Association (ECTA) has never acquired private land, nor does the ECTA have any obligation to consult developers on publicly owned Crown land that has had publicly owned trails for over a hundred years.

ECTA jurisdiction and maintenance of the publicly owned trail is a matter of legislation, and not subject to the whims of private developers.

The developers had previously accused the town council of Witless Bay with unsubstantiated charges of conflict of interest.

This attack on the integrity of town council members was unwarranted and unjustified.

Edward Vickers

Gallows Cove, Witless Bay

Organizations: ECTA

Geographic location: Witless Bay, Ukraine

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Recent comments

  • LLB
    September 05, 2014 - 06:57

    Mr. Vickers is being criticized for his stand on Crown lands. He should not be criticized, he is absolutely correct in his analysis. Despite what many in NL may think, the title to Crown Land can only be transferred by the Land Act. The Act has been updated several times and occasional trespass will not provide title to Crown Land. There is a clear process to remove the Crown from title and in this case it has not been done. MR. Vickers is correct and is not being "smug" as stated. It might be helpful for those criticizing Mr. Vickers stand to check the legislation. As others have stated, Mr. Vickers has been consistent in his stand in public and in court. Claiming title is not an easy process when Crown Land is concerned. I am surprised that Crown Land has not intervened with respect to land at Ragged Beach. For those who may be interested Friends of Ragged Beach and Mr. Vickers raised this issue in court documents that are available to the public. If title is an issue Mr. Vickers is correct, it is imprudent to try and develop land where title is in question.

  • LLB
    September 04, 2014 - 22:12

    Mr. Vickers is being criticized for his stand on Crown lands. He should not be criticized, he is absolutely correct in his analysis. Despite what many in NL may think, the title to Crown Land can only be transferred by the Land Act. The Act has been updated several times and occasional trespass will not provide title to Crown Land. There is a clear process to remove the Crown from title and in this case it has not been done. MR. Vickers is correct and is not being "smug" as stated. It might be helpful for those criticizing Mr. Vickers stand to check the legislation. As others have stated, Mr. Vickers has been consistent in his stand in public and in court. Claiming title is not an easy process when Crown Land is concerned. I am surprised that Crown Land has not intervened with respect to land at Ragged Beach. For those who may be interested Friends of Ragged Beach and Mr. Vickers raised this issue in court documents that are available to the public. If title is an issue Mr. Vickers is correct, it is imprudent to try and develop land where title is in question.

  • mike
    September 01, 2014 - 21:56

    If the developer only want's to build his dream home as he has claimed in the past,why not build just that ,he could use the access that is there and would not have to put the access to town standard's,he would just have to maintain the access himself.other people are doing this,no different then someone having a long driveway to maintain,but i think the developer has a hidden agenda. i.e. over night millioniare from crown lands.

  • Maggy Carter
    September 01, 2014 - 21:06

    It would be better that Mr. Vickers toned down the hyperbole and avoid coming across as overly smug. There is no doubt overwhelming support for the principle of preserving the public's right to transit our scenic coasts by foot. The law already reserves 15 metres from the high-water mark for that purpose but often, of course, that isn't adequate for the purpose of maintaing a public right of way. Government has authorized and indemnified groups like the ECTA to engage in the development and promotion of trails that have often seen centuries of use. The ECTA has lobbied for more power - custodial rights. I am not convinced that is either necessary or wise. We already have a plethora of agencies in this country that are neither fish nor fowl. They are so called not-for-profits that operate in the unfettered twilight between government and the private sector - where accountability and transparency are seldom in evidence. It is a method increasingly favoured by government for hiving off financial responsibility to third parties for the management of public resources. The problem is that such groups quickly evolve into secretive, self-serving fiefdoms of their own. With those devolved powers invariably goes the right to self-finance their activities through a variety of mechanisms including the ubiquitous, unregulated, hated user-fee. It is in that way that activities long thought of as a prerogative of the public to engage in freely invariably become taxed, tariffed and tedious. That's not to say the ECTA hasn't done good work developing some of these trails but I see no need to fix what isn't broken. I have no idea of the merits of the developer's claim and I'm totally opposed to cliff-hugging real estate of any kind. But Mr. Vickers characterization of the manner in which a claim might have arisen in respect of these lands is, for better or worse, a description of how most crown lands have passed into private ownership in this province. The time it took to cut posts and longers - assuming barb wire was out of reach - was pretty much the only obstacle to land assembly for hundreds of years. We need only look at that great new parcel of private land to the west to know that our laws and methods of doling out crown land are badly in need of overhaul. Whether or not the ownership claims in this instance are legitimate (and, of course, that's what the courts are for), government needs to take ownership of this problem and stop behaving like a parent who goes for a smoke while siblings are having at each other.

  • Mo
    September 01, 2014 - 20:02

    Since when is the truth an insult. The only insults I have heard are from the developers calling those opposed Nobs and other insults not fit for this space. Before you point your finger at those trying to serve the public good remember there are four fingers pointing back at you. Really how stupid a remark. get smart and understand public good

  • Linda
    September 01, 2014 - 13:43

    I agree with Mr. Vickers, and too bad we must continually defend our right to maintain public lands for our common good.

  • Nuttin Sacred
    September 01, 2014 - 12:17

    Muskrat Falls is not sacred. Mumbo Jumbo was the phrase that Labrador's Keith Russell used to get that on the go. Nothing is sacred and no natives should be allowed to stand in the way of important, necessary progress as this. I'm tired of natives blaming bogeymen for their own hypocrisy. Harper, Putin - worse than hitler, yup, yup, yes sir, we don't have any personal responsibility in this, nor sir, nope......

  • Frank
    September 01, 2014 - 10:57

    You lost me at "Vladimir Putin". Why is it that it seems ECTA members and supporters are unable to speak in defense of their organization without resorting to insults or disrespect?

  • Peter
    August 31, 2014 - 04:44

    The only person who has stood up to this developer from the beginning of this charade has been Friends of Ragged Beach led by Vickers. he has consistently maintained a position that the land at Ragged Beach is public land and should remain public lands with access to all the public. the developer seems to assume that he has some special status that permits to override the public right. I have spoken to people who live in the area and the land where the East Coast Trail is has always been public land and the developer has no claim to it whatsoever. the only person who is right here is Vickers

  • Mike S
    August 30, 2014 - 14:39

    Spot on Mr.Vickers, spot on. Cheers!!

  • Britt Petras
    August 30, 2014 - 07:34

    I'm a hiker and have been walking the trail at Witless Bay for years. Both the south and the north one. I have noticed with horror how the northern part has been infringed upon by huge monster homes without any complaints from anyone. The same style houses have also recently been built a few feet from the shore on Gallow's Cove Road itself. They are all covered in bright coloured vinyl siding and are an eye sore to say the least. How well septic systems work so close to the sea I leave to the experts to figure out. As a contrast the house that has been planned for the Ragged Beach location would be a one story log house functioning totally off the grid. Set back where it would hardly be noticeable from the trail. I could see no harm in such a house in this location. The trails that are mentioned in the above article are used by ATVs mostly. I have during all my hiking never seen a person meander down them. But I've seen and heard lots and lots of large, fast driving ATVs chew up the trails leaving a total mess behind. That this practice is allowed is hard to understand in such a pristine location. So it seems to me that there are a law for some and not for others. All around Newfoundland Crown Land is destroyed to make room for new development without any consideration for beauty. Hardly have I ever seen such disrespect for nature as in this province when it comes to building practices. So here is a couple who wants to build a small, off-the -grid house that fits right in with the environment and all hell breaks loose. There is no rhyme and reason to the outcry of this. No logic, just wild sentiments reigning. Or so it seems to me. I don't know these people, have no financial interest in this matter, just a thinking human.