Huu-ay-aht First Nations announced this week that the Nation is “optimistic” that Premier John Horgan’s recent visit to the Nation’s main village will lead to significant upgrades to the road.
Horgan travelled the Bamfield Main road to Anacla on Thursday, Nov. 14 and met with stakeholders—including Western Forest Products, Mosaic, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the City of Port Alberni, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District and MLA Scott Fraser—to discuss future upgrades.
During Thursday’s meeting, Horgan directed Ministry representatives to form an action group with Huu-ay-aht and other key stakeholders to create a plan to upgrade the road.
“Together we have the tools we need to make significant upgrades to the road,” said Huu-ay-aht chief councillor Robert Dennis Sr. in a press release. “We have met in a respectful way, and it is clear we are all committed to take the necessary steps to reach our Nation’s top goal of chip sealing the Bamfield Road.”
By travelling the road and visiting the community himself, Dennis added that Horgan now has a better understanding of how important it is to ensure that the “vital link” is safe for all travellers.
Dennis says that an engineering report carried out by the province does not dispute that there is an urgent need for upgrades, but focuses on what approach to take. He added that this offers him hope that the province and Huu-ay-aht can find a timely, creative solution that works for everyone.
Huu-ay-aht has been campaigning for decades to chip seal the Bamfield Road, but a fatal bus crash that claimed the lives of two University of Victoria students in September highlighted the urgency of the safety concerns.
Since the Bamfield Road opened in the 1970s, Huu-ay-aht has lost eight citizens along the 78-kilometre logging road.
During Thursday’s meeting, Huu-ay-aht showed their appreciation to the Premier by presenting him with a traditional name—Yačuk ma tašii (Yatsuk ma tashii), which means “he who walks the path.”