Florence Lake Forest Service Road’s (in black) access to Zajac Ranch. District of Mission photo.

Florence Lake Forest Service Road’s (in black) access to Zajac Ranch. District of Mission photo.

Rough road to Mission’s Zajac Ranch requires paving, says founder

‘Tretcherous,’ pothole-filled logging road has seen massive traffic increase for recreational use

The increasing popularity of a pothole-filled logging road on the westside of Stave Lake has left it in desperate need of paving, according to the founder and camp director of Zajac Ranch.

The eight-kilometre Florence Lake Forest Service Road is managed by the province to serve the forestry industry – but it also provides access to numerous campgrounds and is constantly used recreationally by 4×4 enthusiasts.

Zajac Ranch is a children’s camp which serves more than a thousand kids every year who have medical conditions.

Mel Zajac, the camp’s 93-year-old founder, said he’s been trying to get the road paved for 16 years now, but in the last five years, increased use has worn it down to the point of being dangerous.

“There must have been two foot holes in there yesterday,” Zajac said. “We can’t operate [properly] in the fall and spring … If I won the sweepstakes, I’d pave it myself.”

The road is re-gravelled every couple of months by the District of Mission at a huge cost, said Vera Pina, camp director.

She said each season comes with challenges.

“In the winter, the rain makes the potholes much deeper … In the summer, you’ve got all the dust that rises, so often you cannot see while you’re on the roads,” Pina said. “We had a cloud over the ranch of just constant dust.”

Pina said both conditions end up hurting the kids: journeying up the “treacherous” road is upsetting and disturbing for the many of the children with autism and downs syndrome; while children with breathing problems suffer from the dust clouds in the summer.

The problem is the road keeps getting more and more popular, Zajac said. He said the District of Mission recorded over 156,000 vehicles using the road last year, and with COVID-19 shuttering many other popular destination spots, even more vehicles are using the road.

Data collected from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development Contacts show traffic increased 80 per cent in the vicinity of Zajac Ranch from January to April of last year.

The re-gravelling efforts are quite literally swept away when the 4x4ers speed up the road or perform doughnut maneuvers, according to Pina.

She said she has spent thousands fixing her vehicle, with everything from flat tires to suspension problems.

“Right now, it’s horrendous. I actually just broke my car again,” Pina said. “There’s areas where you can just drive around the potholes, but there’s other areas where there’s just so many of them on the bridges and you have no options.”

Accidents are a frequent problem on the road, with emergency crews often having to use the camp’s fields for their rescue operations, Pina said.

Staff created a petition to pave the road on Sept. 14, and its collected over 800 signatures, many from the concerned parents of campers.

Pina said when she posted the petition to Facebook, there was backlash from the recreational 4x4ers, who enjoy the rough terrain over paved roads and claimed the camp had lots of money.

“We’re a non-profit, obviously we do not charge … We are not some fancy private business, we’re serving the community” Pina said. “[The camp] puts Mission on the map, because kids come from all over Canada.”

Staff want the province, and the community, to recognize the need for paving as “it’s no longer just a logging road anymore.”

“Everybody in Mission knows this area now,” Pina said. “The idea that this [road] is a well-kept secret went out the window a long time ago.”

RELATED: Recreation, not recklessness

RELATED: 4X4 driver fined after getting stuck in the lake

Mission

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

<a href="Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning." target="_blank"></a>Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning. (File photo)
Man killed in fatal hit-and-run collision between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Body reported at 6 a.m., police close North Parallel Road, single highway lane as they investigate

Westbound traffic is slow moving on Highway 1 following a crash that has police blocking one lane. Google Maps screenshot taken at 9:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Crash on North Parallel Road causes road closure, single westbound Highway 1 lane blocked

Abbotsford Police investigating, roads closed between McDermott and No. 3 Road

Kassandra Clack of Abbotsford has been named one of 18 finalists in the Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search, taking place in June.
Fraser Valley country singer Kassandra Clack a finalist in national talent search

18 finalists vie to win Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search in June

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Vancouver Giants celebrated a Justin Sourdif goal Saturday night in Kamloops. Giants dropped a 3-1 decision to Kamloops, a game that clinched the 2020-21 B.C. Division banner for the Blazers. (Allen Douglas/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants drop 3-1 decision to Kamloops

Third-period rally should have come sooner, said coach of Langley-based team

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country’s crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
IHIT investigating after man killed in Burnaby shooting

Police looking for more information on fatal shooting

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Most Read