Cottages provide one with the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy a respite from the hustle-and-bustle of modern life. Unfortunately, however, cottages may also become the source of significant conflict, stress, and even litigation.
It is not uncommon for cottagers to become embroiled in disputes regarding the use of private roads; these conflicts often escalate to the point of one cottager blocking another’s road access to their property. In this article, I will explain the legislation surrounding the use of private roads for the purpose of access and discuss what you should do if your access road has been blocked.
1. Access Roads
In 1978, the Ontario Legislature introduced the Road Access Act. The Act protects the ability of cottagers to access their cottages via private “access roads”. The Act defines an access road as “…a road located on land not owned by a municipality and not dedicated and accepted as, or otherwise deemed at law to be, a public highway, that serves as a motor vehicle access route to one or more parcels of land”.
Pursuant to section 2(1) of the Act, with limited exceptions, no one is permitted to block a private access road if doing so prevents access to another’s land or docking facilities. As a result, if you require the use of a private road to access your cottage property, others are, generally speaking, not legally entitled to block you from using the road to access your property.
2. What Should I do if someone blocks my cottage access?
Despite the provisions of the Road Access Act, it is still very common for cottagers to find their road access blocked off by a neighbor. If you find yourself in such a situation, you should be sure to do the following:
A. Take Photos and Videos
If access to your cottage has been blocked off, you should take several clear, timestamped, photos of the roadblock as soon as possible. These photos should be wide-angled in order to show the context of the situation, include any nearby landmarks, signage, or neighboring properties.
B. Collect Witness Information
If there are any witnesses to the incident, ask for their contact information. Witness testimony will be invaluable should the matter come before the court.
C. Contact the Police
While documenting the incident, it’s essential to call the police to report the situation. They can respond to the scene, assess the issue, and initiate any necessary actions.
D. Contact a Lawyer
In some instances, such as where your access is repeatedly blocked, it might be advisable to retain legal counsel to advocate for your rights and commence legal action on your behalf.
If you require legal support, please do not contact our firm for a free consultation. We offer a free initial consultation to evaluate your situation, and we can provide you with legal guidance, represent your interests, and help you navigate the legal complexities associated with your road access problems.