The treacherous gravel road to Bamfield on the west coast of Vancouver Island is getting an upgrade thanks to a $31-million dollar project between the Huu-ay-aht First Nations and the British Columbia government.
Work on the 76-kilometre Bamfield Main that links the remote coastal community to Port Alberni, B.C., is expected to be complete by the fall of 2023.
Safety improvements include installing culverts, paving steep hills, intersections and bridge approaches, and sealing of the entire route.
The road has been the site of many accidents over the years, including in September 2019 when two University of Victoria students died when their bus rolled off the road in a rainstorm.
The Huu-ay-aht head hereditary chief said the partnership between the First Nations and province is an example of true reconciliation.
"We have lost too many lives on this essential link to our community," said Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters).
The Huu-ay-aht First Nations is the first Indigenous community in B.C. to lead a road infrastructure project of this size.
"Today is an exciting day for our nation — one we have been working toward for decades," said Chief Coun. Robert J. Dennis, Sr.
The province is contributing $25.7 million to the project, with the First Nations covering the remaining $5 million.