A Carbonear resident is not happy with the town after finding out work on new hiking trails in the community may have encroached on family land.
Bill Barry has a home on Valley Road, not far from the new trail that will lead to the swimming hole known locally as Knox's Hole.
Earlier this year, council decided to name this portion of its trail system after Carbonear-born physicist Eric "Davis" Earle. It will link through a tunnel under Route 70 to Nell's Walking Trail, named after local resident Nell Finn.
Barry told The Compass a fellow resident of the town informed him about work happening along the new trail, indicating town workers were on his land. The land in question, which he says is approximately three-to-four acres, is bound to the north by Island Pond Brook (also known as the Main Brook). The trail runs south of the brook.
After investigating the matter further, Barry said he contacted the town's CAO Cynthia Davis and accused the town of cutting a corridor through his property and cutting down trees for the trail.
He also met in person with Davis and was told she would look into the matter further.
According to Barry, his own great-grandfather once had a house on the land in the 19th century before moving to another part of town. He provided the town with a deed for the land registered in 1977 and two sworn affidavits from other Carbonear residents signed in 1991.
On July 19, Davis wrote Barry back, stating the town had not cut a corridor through his land for the trail. She noted the provincial Lands Act permits for a reservation area where access to the general public cannot be restricted.
In an emailed response to questions from The Compass, Mayor Frank Butt confirmed the town contends the Act provides them with a 15-metre buffer zone from the water's edge and added staff have been instructed to limit work to that area.
In her response to Barry, Davis did acknowledge some brush may have been cut along land identified as part of the Barry property.
"This is not the area where hikers will be directed," she wrote. "It is not the intent of the Town of Carbonear to encroach upon private property and it will do its best to mark the access for the general public along the shoreline reservation in the area you have identified."
Butt said the town will post notices along the trail reminding users to respect areas that are not a part of the trail.
Had the town limited its work to the river's edge, Barry would not have a problem, but he believes the work went beyond where it should have for the purpose of allowing for an easier walk through land that was already cleared. The alternative, he said, would have involved clearing brush closer to the edge of the brook.
Barry would like to go to the area with someone from the town, but prior to The Compass' print deadline, that had not happened.
The mayor told The Compass if any encroachment had taken place, it would have been accidental and only done "to ensure a safe work place."
He also noted the town's Green Team (a group of summer workers associated with Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador) will undertake work to make sure the trail falls within the buffer zone.
"If a portion of the trail is found to be in violation of the buffer zone, correction will be made and nature will take its course and regrowth will naturally occur," Butt wrote.
Barry has given thought to the possibility of taking legal action but ultimately believes it wouldn't be worth his time or resources to take the town to court.