Premier John Horgan lived up to a promise made in September and travelled the Bamfield Main road to Anacla on Thursday to discuss the province’s report and future upgrades. Along the way, he stopped at the crash site to pay his respects to the two students who lost their lives along this highway almost two months ago.
Horgan said he was pleased to see all of the stakeholders at the table, including Western Forest Products, Mosaic, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions, Bamfield director for Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District Bob Beckett, and MLA Scott Fraser.
“Together we have the tools we need to make significant upgrades to the road. 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,” explains Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “By visiting our community, the Premier has a better understanding of how important it is to ensure this vital link is safe for all who travel the road.”
Huu-ay-aht First Nations is pleased that the Premier took the time to travel to the Nation’s main village and is optimistic it will lead to significant upgrades to the road. The Premier directed the representatives from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure present at the meeting to form an action group with Huu-ay-aht and other key stakeholders to create a plan to upgrade the road.
Chief Dennis says the engineering report on the road carried out by the province does not dispute that there is an urgent need for upgrades, but focuses on what approach to take. He says 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 working diligently for decades to chipseal the Bamfield road, but the fatal bus crash that claimed the lives of two University of Victoria students recently highlighted the urgency of the safety concerns. 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.
Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters) says by committing to find a solution to this issue the Premier is honouring our elders and the Nation’s sacred principles of ʔiisaak (Utmost Respect), ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care of….), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (Everything is One), which guide us as we do business.
Chief Dennis is excited to work with the Province on this important issue as reconciliation is about moving forward together.
Huu-ay-aht showed their appreciation to the Premier by presenting him with a traditional name – Yas̓uk ma tašii (Yatsuk ma tashii), which means “he who walks the path.”
In photo above: Bamfield ACRD Director Bob Beckett, Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions, Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis, Premier John Horgan, Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters, and MLA Scott Fraser take a moment to remember the lives lost on the Bamfield Road almost two months ago. Huu-ay-aht Councillor Edward R. Johnson and Hereditary Chief Jeff Cook do a prayer on Thursday.