OYSTER RIVER, B.C- Roman Anthony wants his pub to become a park.
Anthony is a co-owner of the Fisherman’s Lodge, a restaurant in Oyster River. Earlier this week, the business drew a massive response when they appeared to announce a plan charging for the use of the area.
The announcement, which was posted to the businesses’ Facebook page, said a permit would be needed by anyone wanting to pick up or drop off a boat, who wanted to fish there, who wanted to walk their dog there, or for any other recreational use.
The post also threatened all violators with trespassing charges.
It garnered a universally negative response, with more than 1,000 posts that included things like calling for a boycott of the business.
According to the Strathcona Regional District, there was already fully public access to the waterfront adjacent to the lodge, due to the nearby park.
Anthony has since announced plans to sell the business to the district, in the face of the backlash.
“The demand is so great that they want it public property, lets grant them their wish,” said Anthony, speaking to the Goat on Thursday.
“Who am I, to stand in their way, that they want public property?”
Anthony also stated his intention was to charge for permits for the use of his property’s river access, not the use of the river itself.
“I am not charging people for the use of the river, I do not own the river,” said Anthony.
“However, I own the access to the river.”
He mentioned issues of all-terrain vehicles damaging the area, and having to clean up litter from the river banks near the Lodge. According to him, that’s what prompted his original post.
“The river doesn’t belong to me. It never did belong to me,” said Anthony.
“What belongs to me is my parking lot, my legal liability for the parking lot, people accessing the river through my parking lot, and the legal liabilities involved in that.”
He said he had “definitely” worded his post incorrectly.
“I never meant that I was charging people for the use of the river,” said Anthony.
“No, never at all. What I’m saying is that I’ll charge for access through my property.”
He said the backlash had included death threats.
“Basically, ‘be careful’, said Anthony.
“The community is going to shoot you. That was in comments, on the post.”
As for his proposition of a sale to the district, he stated he had met with the SRD yesterday, and his lawyer would “draw something up shortly”.
“I want to make a public park, for the people,” said Anthony.
“I want to do what the people want. If the people want that as parkland, and they think it’s parkland, let’s do what they want. The people want it as parkland, they don’t want it as a pub. They want it as access to the river, public parking for the people.”
He did indicate there were “other options” for what to do with the property. However, he indicated a preference for the site to be publicly owned.
“That’s through the regional district purchasing the property for the people, because the demand is so great,” said Anthony.
“The people cannot be wrong.”