KELOWNA - It ‘aint over until it’s over. A decision by a judge earlier this month to deny all use by UBC Okanagan staff and students of a backdoor route into the campus could soon be overturned on appeal.
No date has been set but director of public affairs Bud Mortensen confirmed the university has an appeal of its own pending.
“If the appeal… is successful, then we would go back to way it was prior to the last ruling. It would open (Curtis Road) up to use by students and staff,” he said.
Mortensen said he thought the recent ruling was an attempt by the judge to give Curtis Road residents some control of the road while both sides wait for the construction of John Hindle Drive.
The long-awaited east-west connection between Glenmore Road and Highway 97 will include a grade separated bike path that passes right beside the university, potentially reducing the illegal use of the unpaved, unlit private road.
However, construction has yet to begin on the connector road and it’s not due for completion until 2018.
Until then, Mortensen says the university will rely on a large gate and educating users to the most recent legal ruling while appealing to them to not use the road. Paid security patrols are also under consideration.
He agrees there will still be violations but Mortensen said the university is not technically responsible for the individual actions of students once they leave campus or when the travel to it.
“How do you police this? Not all the people who use Curtis Road are our students. We’re not a policing authority, we can’t arrest them and charge them with trespass when they’re still on university property,” he said. “Until then, this really is a communications exercise.”
Mortensen said other new access points such as the newly opened Bulman Road, Academy Way and the future Okanagan Rail Trail corridor will all offer better, safer cycling and pedestrian access to the campus.
“If we were looking at this part of the city in two years, I think we will find a much different and more attractive environment for cyclists,” he said.
Residents say illegal use of Curtis Road as a back route into the campus began almost as soon as Okanagan University College opened it in the early 1990s.
The current legal dispute dates to 2010, when the residents first sought to stop use of the road through the courts.
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