Douglas Lake fight could have major implications

Two & Out
By James Peters
January 15, 2017 - 5:00pm

KAMLOOPS — The radio host Paul Harvey used to have a feature called "This day's news of most lasting significance."

It was always about some under-reported story that would loom much larger in the future than it was during that days news run.

This week's news of most lasting significance here in the Kamloops area may well be the start of a civil trial decades in the making.

It pits the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club, a plucky crew of local outdoors enthusiasts, against the Douglas Lake Cattle Company.

Douglas Lake owns an exclusive tourist ranch in the Merritt area.

One might think Douglas Lake Cattle is locally-owned.

It's not.

Douglas Lake Cattle is owned by Stan Kroenke.

Among his other holdings are the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, and he is the largest shareholder of a little English football club called Arsenal.

A family trust owns the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets.

And it's worth noting that Kroenke is married into the family that founded Walmart.

Forbes estimates Kroenke's net worth at more than $7 billion.

So this is a true David and Goliath battle.

The fish and game club claims the ranch has been blocking access to a couple of lakes.

Douglas Lake is now using its considerable bankroll advantage to take the issue to court, suing the club with the allegation that its members have been trespassing to get to the lakes.

How this case turns out may have huge implications across the province.

There are bound to be dozens of ultra-wealthy people who would love to keep a piece of BC's pristine beauty all for themselves.

In fact, Stan Kroenke himself did something very similar this year in Texas, buying a historic ranch and evicting hundreds of its tenants so he could do with it what he pleases.

The outcome of this trial in Kamloops may uphold BC's outdoor paradise as a place that belongs to the public.

Or it may be another step in the selling off of our province's vast nature only to those who can afford to legally strongarm the rest of us away.

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