Road dedication swap could open up new beach access

Sechelt council has approved the first steps to close an undeveloped road dedication and swap it for a route that could be used as a new access to the beach in the Sargeant Bay area.

The meandering road dedication, known as Sargeant Road, was established in the early 1920s and runs through a 10-hectare (24-acre) lot in the 7000 block of the Sunshine Coast Highway.

The property has been shared by members of the same family for several decades. The owners want to make an adjustment to the lot lines to formally divide it and say having a straightforward boundary would make that easier.

A planning department report presented to council Nov. 6 notes that “the configuration of the road dedication is very irregular and an existing driveway crosses the road area in several locations.” As well, the district has no plans to develop the road.

There is already an existing beach access trail, Annex Road, known to some as “Cardiac Hill,” near the Sargeant Road dedication, so closing it would not impact access to the beach in that area.

In a letter to the district, the property owners said the current road dedication crosses through commonly used parts of the property and could “cause confusion to the local community regarding what is public vs. private property.”

The area the property owners are suggesting for the swap would offer “a straight access” through an old growth forest to a new section of beach they describe as “truly a jewel spot on the Coast.”

The district’s planning department agrees. “Staff have inspected the area and support the proposal based on the quality of the views and uniqueness of the geography,” the staff report said. Planner Sven Koberwitz told council the beach is already a popular spot for kayakers.

Coun. Matt McLean said he supported the idea, but had concerns about whether a new access could be easily constructed.

Koberwitz said a road would not be practical for the new access until such time as the property “becomes significantly developed,” but a trail could be built. He also pointed out that if the proposal moves forward there would need to be more survey work before the road dedication is finalized.

Council unanimously endorsed drafting the necessary bylaw, which would have to be referred to the appropriate agencies and go through a public process before being adopted. If approved, the cost would be covered by the applicants.

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