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

In-class instruction for Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows schools to resume June 1

Classes will be part-time, remote/at-home learning to continue

Maple Ridge Climate Hub urges city council to take action

Many neighbouring cities have declared climate emergencies

LETTER: Fearful guard dog training will bring undue noise and fear to Pitt Meadows

As a neighbour to another local dog-training facility, this resident pleads with council to vote ‘no’

LETTER: Friend claims dog training disruptive to ailing Pitt Meadows neighbour

Concern expressed with only 30 metres distance between a home and a proposed training facility

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Officials looking for answers after Abbotsford football star found dead in Sask. lake

Saskatchewan Health Authority looking into circumstances surrounding Samwel Uko’s hospital visit

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

Most Read