FILE - Search and rescue crews and RCMP help a tow-truck crew to remove a bus from the ditch of a logging road near Bamfield, B.C., on Saturday, September 14, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Talks with Horgan on safety of Bamfield bus crash road were productive, FN chief says

Huu-ay-aht First Nations had a ‘productive discussion’ with B.C. Premier John Horgan

A First Nation says it had a “productive discussion” Tuesday with British Columbia Premier John Horgan about a logging road where two university students recently died in a bus crash.

The Huu-ay-aht First Nations says Horgan told its representatives that the government began working on a engineering report for the road about a month ago.

It says he has agreed to meet with the First Nation in October to review the study.

Huu-ay-aht Chief Coun. Robert Dennis Sr. has long been seeking upgrades to the privately owned gravel road that is the only vehicle access between Port Alberni and First Nations communities in Bamfield.

The route is also the only one to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre — the destination of a bus carrying 45 University of Victoria students that crashed Sept. 13, killing two passengers.

Dennis said the First Nation is disappointed the province didn’t agree to take immediate action to improve the road.

“We have been diligent for many years trying to get action on this, with upgrades to the road as our top priority as a nation,” he said in a statement.

“We are saddened that it took a tragedy to highlight the need to chipseal the road. We want the premier to understand that we are not going to rest until our vital link is safe for all who travel the road.”

READ MORE: John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

B.C.’s Forest Safety Ombudsman called on the province to upgrade the logging road in 2008, noting the importance of the route not just for logging but to communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The First Nation said since it opened in the 1970s, it has lost eight citizens and there have been ”countless accidents” along the 78-kilometre road. It described the road as “dangerous.”

In the statement issued by the First Nation, Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said she feels “optimistic moving forward.”

“We support and appreciate the dedication Huu-ay-aht has made as they continue to push this issue forward. As a city, we are making this our transportation priority.”

The crash on Sept. 13 killed two 18-year-old students, Emma Machado of Winnipeg and John Geerdes, who was from Iowa.

The RCMP and Transport Canada began investigations after the crash.

Earlier this month, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena said the situation surrounding the road ”is complex as this is a private, industrial road, operated and maintained by private companies for active forestry operations.”

The Huu-ay-aht First Nations said Horgan raised questions about the road’s ownership during their meeting, but Dennis said he does not believe the ownership of the road will be an issue.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2019.

The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Forestry watchdog warned B.C. government about Bamfield Road in 2008

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bird contacting wires causes massive Port Hardy power outage

The power outage started at 1:18 p.m. and lasted until 3:00 p.m.

Port Hardy Salvation Army serving lunch daily during pandemic

Centre is closed to the public, but overnight shelter, daily lunch and one-on-one services available

Port Hardy arena waiting for almost three million in grant funds needed for maintenance

The funds will be going towards upgrades to the arena and the lobby entrance.

Seniors housing in Port Hardy moves ahead with rezoning application

North Island seniors able to “age in place” in new facility, currently getting funding and permits

Port McNeill curling club will be getting a brand new paint job, thanks to residents

‘The generosity of this community never ceases to amaze me!’

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Search and rescue crews help locate 62-year-old Nanoose Bay mountain biker

RCMP: Man got lost on trail and did right thing by calling for assistance

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Most Read