Trespassing on the 25th Line in AH
By Chad Ingram
Published Jan. 24. 2019
The Maple Lake Road Association, along with the Township of Algonquin Highlands, is asking residents to stop trespassing on private property along the 25th Line Road off Highway 118, in order to access Maple Lake.
Councillors discussed the situation, which entails a hodgepodge of publicly and privately owned property, during a Jan. 17 council meeting.
As a report from operations manager Adam Thorn indicated, a property owner has expressed concern regarding vehicles parked along 25th Line Road during the winter months as people go ice fishing on the lake. A portion of the road about 520 metres long is located on an unopened township road allowance, the remaining 125 metres past Providence Drive on private property. However, the road is not a township-assumed road, and both sections are maintained by a private contractor through the road association. So, part of a privately maintained road sits on public land.
“Because the upper, 520-metre portion of the 25th Line is an unopened road allowance, it is not assumed or maintained by the township bylaw,” Thorn’s report read. “This means the township cannot issue parking tickets, install signage or call the OPP on behalf of residents.”
“Because the road has never been assumed by us, it’s not ours,” said Mayor Carol Moffatt. The assumption of the road by the township would require a substantial upgrading of its condition, something not recommended by staff due in part to cost, and Moffatt said there was no appetite from the association for the township to assume the road.
“I think the issue is going to be preserving the rights of property owners,” Moffatt said, adding, “I believe today’s conversation is the beginning of a greater conversation.”
The piece of property that people pass over to actually access the water is also privately owned, with deeded rights to residents of Maple Lake Estates only.
While the 520-metre stretch of the roadway that sits on the unopened township road allowance is technically a public right-of-way, “they actually don’t have a right to go anywhere from there,” Moffatt said. The mayor said the area was being used to access the lake during the summer months as well.
Cars parked on the private portion of the road could be towed away by the OPP at the request of property owners.
“This is the beginning of a conversation that is going to have some push back, I think,” Moffatt said.
Thorn told council that he thought some education would help, and that at least some residents believe they are accessing the lake via public property.
“The consensus I’m getting from the people is, they just don’t know,” he said.
Thorn will be working with the association on wording and location of signage for along the roadway, although the purchase, erection and maintenance of that signage will be the responsibility of the association, not the township.