A camp for children with disabilities has been operating along Stave Lake for 16 years now, and the only access is still along a dangerous service road, the camp director said, pleading for upgrades. (Zajac screengrab)

LETTER: Former service road to kids camp needs to be paved

VIDEO: Almost 200,000 drivers use Florence Lake Road – just east of Maple Ridge – each year

Dear Editor,

My name is Vera, and I am the camp director at Zajac Ranch.

We are located at the top of Florence Lake Road, right by Stave Lake, between Maple Ridge and Mission.

The ranch actually used to be a prison, but 16 years ago our founder Mr. Zajac turned it into a camp for children with disabilities after two of his own children passed away.

He’s 93 now, still going and getting new things built every year – he’s got an incredible life story on his own.

Anyway, the reason I am writing is because we have been trying to get this road paved for years.

This used to be a service road, so it’s gravelled from time to time, but right now there’s almost 200,000 people using it yearly.

RELATED: Road upgrades to proposed Tim Hortons camp coming (2013)

We see accidents on a monthly basis, from cars going off track to vehicles actually falling off the cliff; search and rescue often have to use our field to land their helicopters in order to go find people.

Potholes the size of the moon, dust that is being inhaled by our campers with a compromised immune system and the public in general, car pieces everywhere (I’ve had four flat tires this year, just from that actually) and in the winter it’s mayhem.

This year this road has seen an unprecedented amount of people because of COVID.

With places like Golden Ears, Hayward Lake, and Rolley Lake being closed for a while and Golden Eear now requiring day passes, this road became more popular than ever as it offers unrestricted access to Devil’s Lake and campgrounds right by Stave Lake.

It was a well kept secret for many years. But not anymore.

So we’d love to go public with this and let the people of Maple Ridge and Mission know what we are trying to do.

We have started a petition which quickly got almost 1,000 signatures, but that is only the families that use the ranch.

We would like to get the word out to everyone who’s using the road recreationally.

We also feel that people have the right to know that this is no longer a service road, not with 200,000 users.

People pay for gas to use this road and they should be able to use it without putting themselves in danger.

Mr. Zajac’s foundation has also built one of the local schools in Mission, and people are proud that the ranch attracts hundreds of families with disabilities from all over B.C. each year, it puts Mission on the map for this population.

This road is being neglected to everyone’s detriment.

We need help getting the word across to more people and eventually getting the right people to do something about it!

Vera Pina, camp director for Zajac Ranch for Children

.

________________________________

• If there is more to this issue, please let us know about it. Email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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