Huu-ay-aht ready to work with Premier to improve safety of road

Huu-ay-aht First Nations is pleased that their call for action following a fatal crash on the Bamfield Main road has been answered by the premier.

“We called for an immediate meeting to discuss what can be done to ensure there is a safe route for everyone travelling this road, and that meeting is going to happen next week,” says Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “It is unfortunate that it took a tragedy like we witnessed last Friday to bring about action, but we are pleased that yesterday Premier John Horgan vowed to upgrade the logging road that connects our community to Port Alberni.”

Bamfield Main is an 85-kilometre gravel logging road connecting the West Coast communities of Bamfield and Anacla to Port Alberni. It can be dangerous due to potholes, industrial truck traffic, poor driving conditions, steep embankments, slippery conditions in the winter, and dry summers that causes dust and limited visibility. Huu-ay-aht has been actively looking for support in their efforts to improve this vital link, but only recently have they seen success on a provincial level.   

In the spring, Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions raised concerns over the road, on behalf of Port Alberni City Council. She said her council is thrilled to hear Premier Horgan has committed to working with the leaders in the area to address the safety concerns on the Bamfield road.

“The tragedy that occurred last weekend has left hearts broken and families devastated, and we are committed to working with the provincial government to ensure an accident like this never happens again,” she says. “We would like to extend our greatest thanks to Chief Dennis and the Huu-ay-aht community for recognizing and continually advocating for the critical need for improvements to this road.”

Huu-ay-aht also received support in its continued effort for improvements from the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, MLA Scott Fraser, and MP Gord Johns all prior to and since the bus accident.

“This kind of support is important because the condition of the road to Bamfield is key to ensuring safe passage to our community, and also to achieve reconciliation, economic sustainability, and our social goal of bringing our people home,” points out the Chief Councillor. “We are saddened by the loss of two young students, and we will honour them by doing everything we can to ensure it never happens again.”

Prior to the incident on Friday, September 13, Huu-ay-aht was meeting with Transportation Minister Claire Trevena at next week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities in Vancouver. Huu-ay-aht will now also meet with the Premier at UBCM.

Chief Dennis says their discussions will shift from whether the province will support Huu-ay-aht’s proposed upgrades to how can everyone involved work together to make these changes happen in a timely fashion.