Stakeholders met in the village of Anacla on Nov. 14, 2019 to discuss improvements to the Bamfield road. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Stakeholders met in the village of Anacla on Nov. 14, 2019 to discuss improvements to the Bamfield road. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

First Nations ‘optimistic’ about road upgrades after Horgan visits site of fatal bus crash

Premier travelled Bamfield Main road, where bus flipped last September and two students were killed

A group of First Nations on Vancouver Island say they are “optimistic” that Premier John Horgan’s recent visit will lead to significant upgrades to the main road, following a fatal bus crash in September.

Horgan travelled the Bamfield Main road to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ main village, down the coast from Ucluelet, on Thursday and met with members of the City of Alberni, regional district, transportation ministry, and others to discuss improvements.

Concerns resurfaced after a bus carrying students from the University of Victoria flipped over on its way to the Marine Sciences Centre at Bamfield. Two students, and 18-year-old woman from Winnipeg and an 18-year-old man from the United States, were killed.

Huu-ay-aht has been campaigning for decades to resurface the road with a mixture of asphalt, water and gravel to extend its life and protect it from moisture.

Horgan directed ministry staff to form a group with Huu-ay-aht and other stakeholders to create a plan to upgrade the road.

“We have met in a respectful way, and it is clear we are all committed,” Huu-ay-aht chief councillor Robert Dennis Sr. in a news release. He called the road the “vital link” connecting his village and the science centre to the rest of the island.

READ MORE: Bamfield safety concerns resurface after fatal bus crash

Since it opened in the 1970s, Huu-ay-aht has lost eight people along the 78-kilometre logging road.

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