B.C. angler ‘overwhelmed’ at winning lake access case against billionaire ranch, Douglas Lake Cattle Company

Originally published by Vancouver Sun, December 8, 2018 By TIFFANY CRAWFORD A B.C. angler who took on an American billionaire ranch owner in a David and Goliath battle for public access to a lake says he’s shocked at winning the case. “We are in disbelief right now but very happy,” Rick McGowan, director of the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club, said the day after the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in the club’s favour. McGowan’s club took the Douglas Lake Cattle Company to court two years ago after the company in the 1990s blocked access to Stoney and Minnie lakes on the Douglas Lake Ranch near Merritt. McGowan said the court’s decision is precedent-setting and will mean the people of B.C. have a right to access all public places in the province. In a ruling posted Friday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Joel Groves said the provincial government retained rights to the lakes, making the fish in the lakes public property. The ruling means the public has a right to access the lakes. Groves concluded that province breached its obligations to the citizens of B.C. when the cattle company unilaterally closed a public road and “no government official had the wherewithal to insist that the lock on the gate be removed.” “We always knew what evidence we had and the law, but it was just how we were going to get the government and the private land owners to acknowledge that the law is there and they have to abide by it. And the judge now has confirmed that,” said McGowan, on Saturday. “I know a few people were headed up there to go fishing today. So I’m sure that lock has been removed one way or another.” The ranch [...]