What can we do to get service?

Local rancher trying to get dust surpression on her rural road

Editor:

I have had the privilege of living along the beautiful Quesnel River within the Quesnel River Valley for 20 years now.  For those of you who may not know, this is accessed by the popular Quesnel Hydraulic Road.

Many of the residents who live along the lower Hydraulic road generate their income from agriculture.  Businesses along this river range from vegetable market gardens, equestrian professions and various cattle ranches.  My family raises beef cattle and we work full-time in our ranching business.

Unfortunately, the days outside have been downright unhealthy.  Quesnel Hydraulic Road splits our ranch in half as it makes its way forward towards Beaver Mouth.  This area is a popular Provincial Park and draws many for an enjoyable camping experience.  Besides Beaver Mouth, there are also two popular fishing lakes.

I hate to be the one to impart to you the grim reminder that you may be presented with dust resembling severe winter white out conditions and when you meet an oncoming vehicle where there is not a spot of dust control, they may be travelling in your lane.  I think all citizens who travel the Quesnel Hydraulic Road in any form should be concerned about the hazard of this road. Lets hope for some dust control and proper surface of this road so that we farmers can work in a healthy and safe environment and the recreational folks can continue to enjoy nature and get there safely.

The unhealthy and dangerous conditions have nothing much to do with the traffic that uses this road, but the fact there is no use of dust control in the valley where all the farms are located.  Every vehicle that goes by on this public road creates a dust hazard emitting a physical health threat and a road hazard for visibility.  We have open range along this road and I fear someone will hit either someone or livestock that may be on the road.  The road is very rough with what I consider almost unnavigable washboard and is very, very dusty.

When approaching the local road maintenance company about the issue of dust maintenance, they replied we live too far from the road to warrant dust control and only apply spot applications to homes that are very close to the road. The air is so heavy with dust when irrigating one of our fields that you can’t even see from the road, you could barely see the outline of a bear feasting in the field.  The air resembled a foggy morning along Dragon Lake. The Encom road department, when pressed about the fact they use dust control material on the first part of Hydraulic Road in great volumes on crown land where there are no residences was an effort to stabilize the road. This doesn’t reconcile with their first statement. A comment was also made that “that’s what you get for livin’ in the country.”

When asking the Ministry of Highways why the populated part of Hydraulic road lacks maintenance and dust control, they reply that we are not a priority because there are no logging trucks frequenting the road presently.  They did not reply about why the dust control is applied generously on the first part of the road along crown land.  Then what about all the mining traffic, the forestry worker traffic, the immense amounts of recreational traffic and the local agricultural traffic? Somehow I am feeling that we are not being told everything when it comes to public road policies.  The Quesnel Hydraulic road is a driving hazard.  It is extremely rough, narrow and dusty with limited visibility. I have had some folks tell me that it is the poorest maintained public road that they have ever driven on and that often times they encounter vehicles coming the opposite way in their lane as the oncoming vehicle tries to avoid the washboard.  Others have said that they will not even venture out here due to the poor condition of the road.

My question is this – What can we do to get service?

Cecile Cameron, Rancher

Quesnel