A local explorer finds himself in hot water after a Gazette story heralding his accomplishments.
On Dec. 16, 2015, the Gazette ran an article about Grand Forks resident Frank Schlichting and his adventures exploring the mine shafts around Phoenix as well as flying around Canada. Unfortunately, the principle title owner of the Phoenix Mine site, New Nadina, read the article and have reached out to Schlichting saying he is trespassing and has stolen property from the mine.
New Nadina is the parent company of Kettle River Resources Ltd. which is the registered owner of the many Crown grants (surface and/or undersurface), the old open pit as well as mineral tenure over the area. A representative from the company said that under Ministry of Energy and Mines regulations, Kettle River Resources is to keep the public out of the area.
Schlichting told the Gazette he received a warning letter from New Nadina in December after the article came out. “I guess they read the article and read some stuff on Facebook,” he said. “I talked to them, they sent a copy to a Mines guy and to a member of the RCMP and said they were charging me with trespassing.”
Schlichting said he didn’t hear from the RCMP so he followed it up with a call to the detachment. “Basically they said there would be no charges,” he said. “I did quite a bit of research on it. As far as I know if you object to someone being on your property you have to put up a fence and post a warning.”
When contacted by the Gazette, Midway RCMP said they were unable to speak to any alleged trespassing on the site.
In a Dec. 30, 2015 reply from Schlichting to New Nadina, he stated that mining history is important to the residents and this history should be documented and preserved. “For this reason I think it is important for me to document this history,” Schlichting wrote to New Nadina. “I understand your reluctance to grant permission for persons to enter on to lands that your firm has a interest in because of liability issues that may arise on those lands if an injury or loss were to occur.”
On Feb. 25 by letter, New Nadina responded by stating, “We’ve determined you misrepresented your interest in the mine site for history purposes as evidenced through postings/discussion on Facebook sites ‘Frank Schlichting’ and ‘Boundary Heritage, History and Genealogy.’ Your derogatory remarks and public display of ongoing blatant disregard with encouragement to trespass and access private property shows the disrespectful person I now believe you to be.”
In the letter New Nadina stated that owners of private property have certain rights generally respected by most people. “You appear not to respect private property, encouraging followers of the Boundary Heritage, History and Genealogy Facebook blog to do the same,” wrote Ellen Clements of Kettle River Resources Ltd. in the letter. “Where is your respect for the law and the rights of your fellow citizens and residents? What gives you special right or privilege?”
The letter went on to say that Schlichting may have duped some of the followers of the Boundary heritage site with misinformation and that “you are ignorant of the mine site responsibilities…the Boundary heritage site, in my opinion, would have better credibility if properly managed and should not condone trespass on private property.”
“By public admission you have entered (trespassed) and destroyed reclamation on private property, therefore you are liable for costs to reinstate damage,” wrote Clements. “You entered private property, without permission, and removed items. Please return these stolen items to our office.”
Schlichting posted on Facebook that he had “found” an old dynamite box from the Giant Powder Company in the Phoenix mines with a photo of the box. Clements said that he has not responded to their requests to return items he removed.
Clements confirmed that New Nadina has sent letters to Schlichting warning him to refrain from the property. They also sent copies to the regulating mines inspector and the RCMP.
Schlichting said even with the letter he is unclear of what property belongs to New Nadina, which is Crown land and which is owned by other title holders. “It’s kind of a complicated issue,” he said. “If there is private land up there that I’ve been on they’re not in a position to object if they don’t own it. If they own land and tell me I can’t go on it, that’s fine. So I’ve asked them to provide me with a list of which titles of the properties they own. I’ve got a map from BC Assessment of all the private property so I could mark it on there and respect that. But they refuse to do that. I don’t even know if they own any property up there.”
Ellen Clements of New Nadina (Kettle River Resources) told the Gazette that they have provided Schlichting with a map showing private property and “made several attempts to explain it to him. Any respectful person would not act in this manner.”
Clements said that Kettle River Resources are liable under the mines safety and health regulations and the Mines Act where the responsibility is to ensure they prevent access. “There has been proper signage erected, many times, and it disappears and is destroyed,” she said.
Schlichting said he will continue to push the issue. He said he’s not afraid of being charged or sued for trespassing or theft property and would welcome it if that would bring about more awareness around the issue.
“I understand they don’t want anyone on that property because there are some hazards involved,” he said. “Say you’ve got a big piece of Crown land and you own the mineral rights. You dig a big hole and you walk away. Now if someone is walking there and fall in the hole, while you would be liable because you created that hazard. They’ve created the liability [through drilling] and so they’re going to try and keep people out of there whether they have a legal right to or not. They want to minimize their liability. In my letter I told them I understand you’re concerned about liability. I’m willing to sign a waiver realizing that there are hazardous conditions and if I get injured I wouldn’t hold them liable. They told me their insurance wouldn’t accept that.”