BAMFIELD, B.C. — The Province of B.C. is teaming up with Huu-ay-aht First Nations to improve safety for a deadly Vancouver Island road.
Bamfield Road includes a high-risk, 76-kilometre route of unpaved industrial road on the west coast of the island where a series of fatal accidents have occurred.
Vehicle crashes on the route have killed Huu-ay-aht members, as well as two University of Victoria students in a 2019 bus crash.
“Upgrading the Bamfield Road has been a top priority for our Nation for many years, and we are pleased by today’s announcement,” said Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. in a statement. “By working in a respectful way with Huu-ay-aht to make upgrades to the Bamfield Road a reality, we see that the province is ready to work on true reconciliation with First Nations and is honouring the importance of the safety of our community.”
The upgrades, which come after years of urging from the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, include hard surfacing the road with a seal coat which officials anticipate will increase safety and could spur more economic activity. The road will also have improved drainage through new and upgraded culverts.
The province stated the three-year project will cost around $30.7 million.
The province will cover $27.7 million of the costs with the Huu-ay-aht providing the rest.
The Huu-ay-aht will also manage the project with the assistance of consulting firm Urban Systems. The Huu-ay-aht will provide in-kind resources, including gravel from gravel pits on their treaty lands, which are expected to result in significant cost savings for the project.
Bamfield Road links Port Alberni to Bamfield and Anacla. In addition to being used be residents, the road is utilized by forestry companies, tourists and the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. The province stated it expects the improvements to improve travel times, which will cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions and save the forestry sector $16 million over five years.