Snowed in family looks for charity

A family living in the Chilcotin Military Training Area has been snowed in for almost a month.

Susanne Peter said their special needs son Colton hasn’t been to school since early November or attended scheduled appointments with the Child Development Centre in Williams Lake.

“We are desperate,” Peter said, noting they were unable to receive hay for their animals. “We have lost some of our animals. We have some pregnant horses and we lost a foal out of our best brood mare that we could have sold for a good amount of money.”

The Peters have no family or connections in Williams Lake and Peter said it’s not an option to move into town.

“If we leave our animals they will die.”

Peter is hoping someone will plough the Strousse Lake Forest Service road so they can get in and out of their property.

Up until November the Peters used the Deer Trail Road which brought them to the Stack Valley Road down to Highway 30.

On Nov. 5 the Department of National Defence de-activated the Deer Ridge Trail and replaced it with a shorter road connecting to the Rosa Mackin and Strousse Lake forest service roads.

For its part, the Department of National Defence said the new road provides better access for the family.

“The Deer Ridge Trail road was maintained for a period of time by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada in support of logging in that area, but when the logging ended last summer, DND de-activated it for environmental and safety concerns,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Long, Chief of Operations at 3rd Canadian Division Support Group.

“Every spring Deer Ridge Trail was washed out by runoff because it’s on the side of a hill,” Long said. “Then the washout would go down into a drainage creek on the bottom which impacted the environment.”

Scott also said the Deer Ridge Trail had 13 to 15 per cent grades in most places and some of the culverts washed out.

“From our point we deactivated it for environmental and safety concerns, but not until the new road was built,” Long said.

Peter disagreed saying there were never any problems with the Deer Ridge Trail Road, however, she has complained about the DND roads in the past.

“We were set up for it, we could maintain it. We had a truck and a snow plow which was all we needed. There was one hill and the rest of the road was flat,” she said. “The new road is a disaster. It’s pretty hilly and just wait until spring comes. They never put any gravel on it or packed it. It will wash out. It’s all clay based and we’re going to sink out of sight.”

Peter has been on the phone calling everywhere.

She has written the Queen and the Prime Minister but has received no help, she says.

“When the fires were happening in 2010 they were so concerned to get us out of here so we wouldn’t get burnt, but now that we’re trapped in here nobody is doing anything,” she said. “I’m just getting deaf ears.”

The family has a registered charity account in their son’s name and said if someone was willing to plough the road for them, they could write it off.

“I am absolutely sympathetic with their situation, trust me, but again at the end of the day I have to ask myself is this a better option than what they had before,” Scott said. “The Deer Ridge Trail was not maintained and was in the middle of an area not heavily trafficked. If they broke down they are on their own. The forestry roads are two-laned, there are bridges, it’s maintained and there’s traffic.”


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