US Billionaire vs a fish and game club, BC firearm legislation and a will after separation
This week on Legally Speaking with Michael Mulligan:
The Douglas Lake Cattle Company is the largest cattle range in Canada. It is owned by US billionaire Stan Kroenke, who also owns the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets, amongst other things. The ranch is so large it completely surrounds two lakes that belong to the Province of BC. For years Mr. Kroenke has been trying to stop people, including members of the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club, from fishing in the lakes.
The legal dispute concerning the public’s right to access the lakes involves the interpretation of an 1895 Crown grant of land that is now owned by The Douglas Lake Cattle Company.
The grant of land did not include the lakes, but there was a dispute concerning the ownership of a road that gets close to the lakes and a trail from the road to the shoreline.
Until recently the ranch had attempted to block access to the road by putting logs across it.
At trial the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club was successful. The judge concluded that not only the lakes, and the road, but also the trail, were not included in the land grant and so remained accessible to the public.
In the Court of Appeal, however, The Douglas Lake Cattle Company was successful in persuading the three judges that the trail was included in the 1895 Crown grant of land.
As a result, while the lakes, and the road, are accessible to the public, there is no way to get to the lakes from the road.
In other provinces, there is provincial legislation that permits members of the public to cross over uncultivated land in order to access areas like publicly owned lakes. The British Columbia government should consider whether such legislation should be enacted, as it was urged to do by the trial judge.
Also on the show a recently introduced BC bill entitled the Firearms Violence Prevention Act is discussed. If passed, the legislation would, amongst other things, restrict the sale of “low-velocity firearms” to minors, and permit the impoundment of vehicles that have firearms or other items in them, when the person licenced to have them is not in the vehicle.
Several problems are apparent with the bill, as currently worded, include an error concerning the definition of “low-velocity firearms” which would inadvertently include all firearms, and the absence of an appropriate appeal mechanism for the impoundment of vehicles.
As discussed on the show, hopefully, the errors in the bill will be corrected during the legislative process.
Finally, a case involving a dispute over a will involving section 56 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act is discussed.
This section provides that, subject to a contrary intention in a will, when spouses separate gifts in a will, and appointments as an executor or trustee, are revoked.
The court case discussed on the show involved a spouse, who separated from the deceased 18 months before his death, arguing, unsuccessfully, that she had not ceased to be a spouse.
In the case, evidence of the separation included a signed separation agreement, payment of child support, and the filing of tax returns by the claimant indicating that she was single.
The case is really a cautionary tale about the importance of updating your will when you are married, or separated, to reflect your wishes and to avoid unnecessary disputes.
Follow this link for a transcript of the show and links to the cases discussed.