Huu-ay-aht First Nations walked away from their meeting with Premier John Horgan feeling optimistic following a productive discussion about the Bamfield Main logging road.
Although disappointed that Horgan’s government is not taking immediate action to upgrade the road, Huu-ay-aht was pleased the premier is committing to first steps in making incremental improvements. The premier also shared with Huu-ay-aht that the ministry has been working for approximately a month on an engineering report on the road. Horgan committed to meeting with the Nation in October to review this study.
“We have been diligent for many years trying to get action on this, with upgrades to the road as our top priority as a nation,” explains Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr, following a meeting with the Premier and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure today. “We are saddened that it took a tragedy to highlight the need to chipseal the road. We want the Premier to understand that we are not going to rest until our vital link is safe for all who travel the road.”
Chief Dennis was pleased to hear the ministry was already working on the report prior to the death of two young UVic students on September 13, 2019. He also looks forward to taking Horgan down the road in November, as the premier committed to making the trip.
Although the recent deaths highlight why this is so important to our Nation, this is something Huu-ay-aht has been dealing with for decades. Since the Bamfield road opened in the 1970s, Huu-ay-aht has lost eight citizens and witnessed countless accidents along this dangerous 78-kilometre logging road. We honour our hereditary chiefs and the memory of our lost citizens by continuing to press this important issue.
“Our lives were forever changed when our Tayii Ḥaw̓ił Art Peters, my grandfather, was killed on that road,” says Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin Derek Peters. “Our sacred principles of ʔiisaak (Utmost Respect), ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care of….), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (Everything is One) guide us as we do business, and the discussion today honours these principles.”
“I feel optimistic moving forward,” explains Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions. “We support and appreciate the dedication Huu-ay-aht has made as they continue to push this issue forward. As a city, we are making this our transportation priority.”
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District director Bob Beckett said the Bamfield community appreciates the efforts Huu-ay-aht as continues to work on this important issue.
“I am a little frustrated because I was hoping for a better outcome, but I remain optimistic because the Premier is committed to working together with everyone involved to come up with a solution,” Beckett says.
Horgan raised questions about the ownership of the road, but Chief Dennis firmly believes the ownership of the road is not going to be an issue, and he is looking forward to working with the Province to chipseal the Bamfield road. He appreciates that Horgan is the first premier willing to sit down with Huu-ay-aht and says it is time to work together to get this done.