The West Fraser Road, 600 metres north of Narcosli. The slide area on West Fraser Road on Quesnel’s Deep Creek. (Photo courtesy of Emcon Services)

Letter to the editor: Buckridge family left with many unanswered questions and uncertainties

Robyn Jackson’s six-year-old daughter spends 25 hours a week on the bus because of the West Fraser Road washout


• Editor’s note: this is a copy of a letter sent to the premier, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastruture, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, MLA Jordan Sturdy, MLA Coralee Oakes and MP Todd Doherty

Re: Letter asking for an update on the West Fraser Road Washout

I am writing this letter as a follow up to a previous letter that I wrote in 2018. My husband, our two young children and myself are residents of the Buckridge Community, south of the 2018 West Fraser Road washout.

At this time, with the Garner Road detour, we live 70 kilometres from Quesnel, B.C. The drive time to reach our town is variable, taking anywhere from one hour and 10 minutes to two hours on bad roads. I work in Quesnel as a nurse, and our daughter, who is six years old, goes to school in Quesnel.

Our daughter spends anywhere from 4.5 to five hours a day on the bus. She is the first child to get on and the last to get off. At this time, she knows no different. She has been riding this bus route since she began kindergarten in September of 2018. There have been mental and physical tolls on our daughter, due to this long bus ride. Unfortunately, she has had a few bathroom accidents on the bus — 2.5 hours is a long time for a young child to not have access to a bathroom. She has had days where she is so exhausted that we have kept her home from school. Often, her attendance is only three or four days a week.

A day in the life of our six-year-old daughter looks like this: she wakes up at 5:40 a.m. to catch the bus for 6:20 a.m., she rides the bus for two hours and arrives at school around 8:30 a.m. (often times, she will eat her breakfast on the bus, so she doesn’t have to get up so early). She spends her day at school and catches the bus at 2:20 p.m., she rides the bus for approximately 2.5 hours to get home and arrives at home around 4:50 p.m., we eat dinner as soon as she gets home, and she has about one hour to play or have a bath before she has to get ready for bed so she can do it all again the next day.

She is spending 30 hours in school a week and 25 hours a week on the bus, when it should only be 10-15 hours a week on the bus, if the bus could travel West Fraser Road. It makes me angry and sad as a parent that our little girl is losing such a huge amount of her precious childhood commuting. It makes it even worse that it has been a year and a half since the West Fraser Road washout, and we still feel in the dark about what is being done to fix the road.

The lack of communication makes it nearly impossible to plan our futures. Had we known a year and a half ago that we still would have no more of a definitive timeline, would we have chosen to send our daughter to school in Quesnel? Would we have made other arrangements for her education? Now that she has established ties in her school, what do we do? Do we keep sending her to a school she loves, despite the fact that she is spending half her day on the bus? What if we get a road in two years? What if we never get our road back? You can see how the lack of communication has left many unanswered questions and uncertainties.

So a question for you, what do I want to know? I want to know what site work is currently being done on West Fraser Road, I want to know where we stand for funding on the proposed road, and I want to know a updated proposed timeline for project start and completion.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and I hope that in the future, more proactive steps will be taken to keep our community informed. This event has consumed our community’s lives for the past year and a half, and we deserve answers so that we can plan our futures accordingly.

Robyn Jackson

Buckridge Community, B.C.

READ MORE: Letter to the editor: Quesnel Cattlemen’s Association raise concerns over West Fraser Road detour

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