'Enough is enough': province removes gate blocking road to Boughton Island
'We have the duty to keep public roads open,' says minister of transportation
The province has removed a gate blocking a road providing public access to Boughton Island.
A ministerial order was signed to take the gate down on Thursday. On Friday morning, provincial crews used a backhoe to take it away.
"It's gone," said P.E.I. Minister of Transportation Steven Myers.
Myers said his department doesn't often sign ministerial orders, but it wasn't left with any options. He said the province tried to remove the gate "without ruffling any feathers" by conveying the road was public and asking the property owner to take it down.
"I said 'enough is enough, time to get this thing moving on — we took it down,'" Myers said.
The road became a source of controversy after nearby property owners put up a gate over the winter.
It blocked the only road going to Boughton Island, a popular destination for locals.
The island is made up of more than 120 hectares of protected natural area off P.E.I.'s southeastern shore. There was once a small residential community there, and at its peak it was home to five lobster canneries, a schoolhouse and post office.
More than 400 people signed a petition asking for the gate to be removed.
Duty to keep public roads open
Lawyers were involved in the process of taking down the gate, Myers said.
"From our legal perspective, all along it's a public road because it has been a public road forever," he said. "That's how the road got there."
The province also confirmed the road is public with the chief surveyor for P.E.I.
"We have the duty to keep public roads open," Myers said.
Other than numerous letters asking them to remove the gate, Myers said the owners were given no warning before crews tore it down on Friday morning.
He hasn't heard from the owners since the gate was removed.
Not worried about legal action
Myers said he isn't worried about legal action.
"We can't be threatened by lawyers every time we decide to keep a public access open," Myers said.
He said if someone put a gate across the Hillsborough Bridge, he'd have it removed right away.
Myers said blocking public roads happens more than people might realize.
"If it happens in a public space, which it has — it happened also in Victoria earlier this year — we will just remove them," he said.
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With files from Nicole Willams