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Sask. judge rules against Village of Buena Vista in land dispute case

Buena Vista, Sask.
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A longstanding land dispute between the Village of Buena Vista, Sask. and local cabin owners has reached a verdict after three years.

A King’s Bench Justice in Regina dismissed a legal motion from the village, which argued that certain portions of properties along Last Mountain Lake are actually owned by the province of Saskatchewan.

In the decision dated May 24, 2024, Justice M.A. Baldwin declared that the current boundaries of nine parcels of land on Last Mountain Lake’s northeast shore will be upheld.

The Village of Buena Vista originally brought forward an application in June of 2021, arguing that the provincial Crown was the lawful owner of the land forming the bed and shore of Last Mountain Lake.

The village, which had its boundaries expanded in 2018 to include the nine parcels of land, sought to resurvey the area and submit the findings to the Information Services Corporation (ISC) to update the record.

Cabin owners took issue with this argument – stating that the land belonged to them and they would continue using it as they saw fit.

What ensued was three years of legal action between the two sides.

The case eventually made its way before Justice Baldwin in late April.

In the ruling, cabin owners argued that the village had no personal or public interest to make an application and resurvey the area.

However, the village argued it did, outlining the need for bylaw enforcement and the business activities occurring on some of the parcels. The village referenced a year’s long controversy which centred on whether cabin owners in the area could rent out boat slips on the lake.

“The village describes its interest as that of ‘the authoritative body tasked with the administration of the village’ … and says that determination of the boundaries will enable it to draft bylaws and make appropriate rules and regulations,” the decision read.

In the ruling, Baldwin outlined that there was no indication that the village couldn’t create and institute its bylaws anyway – regardless of who owned the land under and around the boat slips.

“The evidence of the village falls short of establishing that the village has any legal or other interest at stake which would be affected by a determination of the boundaries of the parcels,” the decision read.

A key detail, highlighted by Baldwin, was the fact that the provincial Crown did not weigh in on the issue.

“Here there is agreement among the registered owners and a lack of disagreement from the provincial Crown and, therefore, no determination by the court is necessary,” she wrote.

Baldwin concluded that the village’s originating application needed to be dismissed and the cabin owners were entitled to their taxable costs.

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