(PORT ALBERNI – June 5, 2020) – A recent serious accident on the Bamfield Main road offers a reminder to drivers that dust on logging roads during summer months create a serious safety concern. Huu-ay-aht First Nations (“Huu-ay-aht”) wants to caution motorists to drive carefully if they head to Bamfield this summer.
“Stan Coleman, a Registered Professional Forester and Huu-ay-aht’s Forest Consultant, is an experienced driver and has travelled the Bamfield road most of his career, and yet last week he hit a logging truck that was invisible to him in the dusty roads. Luckily, he was fine, but he totaled his vehicle,” explains Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “Since the Bamfield road opened in the 70s, Huu-ay-aht has lost eight citizens on this road and witnessed countless accidents, many related to dust obscuring visibility.”
It has been nine months since the tragic University of Victoria bus accident claimed two lives along the 85-kilometre stretch of logging road, and Huu-ay-aht continues to push the B.C. government to get the road upgraded. The Nation is calling for chipsealing to reduce dust and other safety improvements. In April of 2019, Premier John Horgan travelled the road to meet with Huu-ay-aht leadership and committed to safety upgrades.
Last week, in a meeting with Huu-ay-aht, Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA and Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Scott Fraser, promised to continue to push for the necessary approvals to move the Bamfield Road improvement project forward. Until that time, Huu-ay-aht encourages people to drive cautiously and to respect road conditions.
RCMP Constable Peter Batt also urges people to keep their speed down, especially when conditions are dusty.
“You need time to stop at the last second with all this dust on the road,” he said. “If you are doing the trip in less than 90 minutes, you are driving too fast.”
He also reminds drivers that it is important to make sure your headlights and taillights are turned on so that people coming toward you and up behind you can see you are there.
Huu-ay-aht has committed $5 million to the Bamfield road improvement project and needs an additional $25.7 million to complete it. In addition to making the road safer for residents, workers and visitors, improving the road is an important step for the whole region and can be part of the economic recovery strategy for the Alberni Valley. The City of Port Alberni and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District understand this and have offered their full support, as have other area First Nations communities, the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, the United Steelworkers, Western Forest Products, Mosaic Forest Management, the University of Victoria, Indigenous Tourism BC, Tourism Industry Association of BC, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and other Provincial First Nations organizations.
“Everyone supports and understands the need for this work to be done,” explains Chief Dennis. “We are hopeful that the province will approve this project soon so that we can improve safety and save lives.”
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About Huu-ay-aht First Nations – Huu-ay-aht First Nations is an indigenous community located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It is a part of the
Nuu-chah-nulth Nation, formerly called the Nootka. Huu-ay-aht is a party to the Maa-nulth Final Agreement, a modern treaty that grants its five member-nations constitutionally protected self-government as well as ownership, control, and law-making authority over their lands and resources. For more information, visit huuayaht.org.