OPINION: A troublesome take on Beautiful B.C.

He was lying on his stomach, in the middle of a logging bridge, pointing a rifle across the gravel road...

He was lying on his stomach, in the middle of a logging bridge, pointing a rifle across the gravel road.

Afghanistan? Somalia?

No, Stave Lake, north of Mission.

It was like the scene was scripted. In fact, my passenger looked at me incredulously and asked, “Did you set that up?”

Most definitely not, but it was a live illustration of why we were there.

My guest was Jennifer Kinneman, the new manager of civic engagement and corporate initiatives for the District of Mission.

During a recent meeting with Mission Mayor Ted Adlem, as part of my expanded editor responsibilities, the conversation turned to that city’s proposed ban on discharging of firearms within municipal boundaries.

The potential legislation stems from long-standing problems at and around Stave Lake, which has become ground zero for a legion of party animals who go there to camp, drive 4x4s, ATVs and motorbikes, drink, fire guns, and drink some more.

As Ted said, one of these days, someone is going to get hit by a stray bullet.

Of course, there is opposition to a full shooting ban, particularly from hunters, who are not the problem. Responsible hunters and recreational shooters don’t indiscriminately blast away in the bush or over water.

However, some of the yahoos who frequent Stave Lake do precisely that.

It’s not a good scene for folks and families going to the area for some peace and quiet in the outdoors.

Hence, the tour of the troublespot.

The first observation was the road signs. Virtually all of them sport at least a few bullet holes. Some have been utterly peppered with rifle and shotgun rounds.

I guess it’s easier than setting up your own targets. Of course, where the bullet ends up after passing through a thin sheet of metal is another story. One of these days…

A dozen or so kilometres down the gravel road come the impromptu campsites that people have established along a creek, and further along, the mud flats favoured by the yee-hah crowd. They were under water, as Stave is a reservoir and the water is high in the summer months. But when those sand bars dry out, bring on the motorized mayhem.

Sometimes the whole area is under a dome of dust, as vehicles roar around in circles in the dirt. Who would actually want to camp in that is beyond me, but my wife and I have seen it as we paddle past into the main lake, which can only be reached by boat. It’s one of our favourite paddling destinations. The scenery is stunning, and there’s serenity to be had beyond Boomtown.

But back to the tour.

After noting the proliferation of broken camp chairs (drunk people don’t do well in cheap fold-out seats), and observing at least three wrecked tents, and countless piles of garbage, we moved along.

And then around a bend was our token target-shooter, splayed out in the middle of a bridge over a creek, plinking away at a poster he and a buddy put up on the opposite side of the road. He jumped up with his gun, and with a somewhat startled expression on his face, watched us drive by. His buddy was wearing a large beach towel like a cape. Quite the pair…

Up the ridge road we went, hoping to come out to a view of Mount Robbie Reed.

However, at least five or more kilometres up the hill we came upon two women in their early 20s, clad only in tank tops, shorts, and flip-flops. Their two dogs splashed through a muddy creek in front of them as they waved us down.

Seems their car broke down a short distance ahead. The tire was poking sideways out of the wheel well. Their Chrysler was clearly ill-conditioned for bumpy logging roads.

There’s no cellphone reception up there, so had we not happened along, the ladies would have been in for a long, long walk.

Since it was the end of our drive anyway, as their car blocked the road, we turned around and took them out to the dam where they could phone a boyfriend for help.

Just another afternoon at Stave Lake.

Surreal, but so indicative of how some people regard Beautiful B.C.

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