The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is asking the province for upgrades to the Bamfield Road — now.
The ACRD board agreed on Wednesday, Feb. 26 to write a letter to Premier John Horgan, expressing urgency in upgrading the Bamfield Road and asking the premier to meet his public commitment to upgrading the road.
Huu-ay-aht First Nations, located in Anacla, has been campaigning for decades to chip seal the road between Port Alberni and Bamfield, but a fatal bus crash that claimed the lives of two University of Victoria students in September 2019 highlighted the urgency of the safety concerns. A working group was formed in November, bringing together stakeholders from Port Alberni, Bamfield, Anacla and the province in order to improve the conditions of the 85-km logging road.
Bamfield director Bob Beckett provided an update to the ACRD board on Wednesday. After heavy rains in February, a bridge at the 45-km mark of Bamfield Main was washed out, temporarily halting traffic. That portion of the road is owned by Western Forest Products and replacement of the bridge was delayed by the WFP strike, according to the Huu-ay-aht.
A detour has been set up around the bridge, but this has added almost an hour to the drive to and from Bamfield, said Beckett. Bridge repair work began on Monday, Feb. 24 and is expected to take 10-14 days to complete.
Beckett said on Wednesday that Bamfield residents are frustrated by the delay in storm repairs, the lack of road maintenance and the lack of communication from the province.
“Something has to be done,” said Beckett. “Our viability is critical. Without improvements to that road, I don’t know what our future holds for us.”
Beckett also pointed out that Wilson’s Transportation has discontinued bus service to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre in the wake of the September accident.
“The ripple effect of that news could have a devastating impact on the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre—the largest employer in Bamfield—and for tourism in general,” said Beckett.
The ACRD board voted unanimously to send a letter to the premier.
“The loss of that bridge and the ridiculously slow remediation…it just doesn’t make political sense to me,” said Beaver Creek director John McNabb on Wednesday.