Bradley Gionet's family home is about 500 metres from the Chilliwack River Valley Fire Department and the Pointa Vista Cafe on Chilliwack Lake Road.
But getting there isn't that easy. That's because Bradley and his family live on private property uniquely situated on a forest service road (FSR) on the south side of the Chilliwack River.
"It's just us," Gionet said of their remote rural home adding, "We are the forgotten family of Chilliwack."
Bradley lives with his father and mother, Bill and Debbie, along with his grandparents, Herb and Doreen Spratt, who are in their 80s.
The remote living arrangement along with a steep $844,000 assessment means the Gionet/Spratt family pay considerable property taxes for which they get virtually no services.
Obviously they have no water, sewer or garbage pick-up.
Mail goes to a box on the other side of the river but given the nebulous address, not all the mail arrives. (The family generally refers to their address as 48701 Tamihi-Liumchen Forest Service Road. The Ministry of Forests calls it the Liumchen Forest Service Road. B.C. Assessment says they live at 48701 Tamahi Rd. And Google Maps say they live on the Vedder Logging Co. Road.)
Whatever the road's name, the main complaint over the years has been the quality of that lone access to the home.
During the wind storm in 2007 a transformer hit the family's power lines causing a fire. It was that emergency and a call to 9-1-1, that led them to realize that the fire department wouldn't travel the road and the property had been removed from the service area in 1992.
An FVRD staff report from 2007 said: "The Forest Service Road leading to Mr. Spratt's property is about two kilometres of unpaved very rough road filled with pot holes. Previously the bridges had been in poor shape but have been replaced in the last year. In other words, it has been and at times can be unsafe or impossible to take a fire truck down to his property."
No fire service is one thing but when Bradley's father had a stroke in April of this year, it took the ambulance 45 minutes to get to the house.
"One reason being that maps and GPS systems couldn't locate us, as the road has several names," he said. "Another being that the ambulance could only travel about 20 km/h down the road."
The four-kilometre stretch of FSR is filled with potholes that requires travelling at very slow speed but it is passable in a two-wheel-drive car. However, when the family complains to the forest district they are told the road is fine.
"The road is safe but it must be driven at speeds appropriate for the surface conditions to ensure safety and reduce vehicle wear and tear," Chilliwack District Manager Allan Johnsrude told the Times via email.
Johnsrude added that because FSRs are maintained largely by industrial users and no log hauling is occurring, there has been no grading since the forest district's late summer 2012 works.
Bradley feels they are in a Catch-22: they are told fire trucks won't come because the road is no good but when they complain about the road they are told it's fine.
Twice a year the district grades the road but this isn't enough for the family.
"The issues we face may be our own, as we have no neighbours," Bradley wrote in a letter to Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O'Mahony. "The fact remains, if the government is unable to care for the only access in and out of our property, they never should have sold off this portion of land so many years ago."
Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) Area E director Dave Lamson said the FSR, like all roads in his jurisdiction, is a provincial responsibility. As for fire service, he said the family has not contacted him since the 2007 incident and that if they want into the fire service area, they can apply.
The Spratts purchased the 40-acre property 40 years ago. Since then flooding has eliminated more than five acres. But despite the remote nature, the road is heavily travelled in spring and summer by legal and illegal recreational users.
"The excess traffic takes its toll," Bradley said.
"This is part of living where we do. The sad thing is due to the extremely over-inflated property value, ridiculous amounts of tax dollars are going nowhere to support us."
O'Mahony told the Times that she has just begun to look into the Gionet/Spratt family's concerns.
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