Village of Zeballos, Mayor Ted Lewis, initiated dialogue by inviting First Nations communities to meet and express concerns regarding the Forest Service Road condition.
The conversation soon proved that collectively we agree that our road is a major deterrent to economic growth of all communities and affects the health and safety of all users. As a united front, the expectation to be heard and validated by both provincial and federal government agencies was evident.
A December 17 invitation to join the table for discussion found Federal government representatives from Aboriginal Affairs Northern Development Canada Minister John Duncan and Regional Director General for BC Eric Magnuson along with two RCMP, Provincial government representation from the Regional office of the Ministry of Transportation, Campbell River District office of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, local government representatives from Zeballos, Ehattesaht/Chinehkint, Nuchatlaht and Kyuquot/Checleseht, and other interested parties engaged in conversation.
Many points of concern were expressed, with the intent to send a message home with our guests that, although we have a small population and are remote, the amount of traffic has increased, and a decreased maintenance budget has deteriorated the condition of our main route to other communities.
We collectively agree that the road is our lifeline and that the condition of the road is unsafe. It was reiterated that the economic growth and health of our community members is at risk by this major obstacle.
Mayor Ted Lewis closed the meeting commenting that, despite the invitations, the disappointing lack of provincial participation at the table would not hinder further planning to engage government to recognize the partnership of the communities and the collective desire to improve the road conditions therefore improving the economic growth of all communities.
This first step will foster continued discussions. Many expressed appreciation to those attending for the support and promise of continued advocacy for our plight. This author feels this day was a pivotal event that will ignite further enthusiasm to achieve our desired result of an improved road way.
Councillor, Village of Zeballos