Construction on the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s 22 kilometre multi-use trail has started up again after a temporary winter hiatus.
The Park Reserve issued a notice last month advising drivers to expect delays of up to 10 minutes on Wick Road. The notice states Wick Road is the first site for the crew to tackle this year because environmental consultants suggested the area’s stream crossings are currently dry and there is little risk to fish.
The 22-kilometre trail that will span the Park Reserve’s boundaries and link Tofino and Ucluelet was announced in 2016 and was initially expected to cost $17.7 million, but the budget has since grown to $51 million.
Parks Canada spokesperson Kavitha Palanisamy told the Westerly News via email that about $10 million has been spent so far on designing the trail, clearing pathways and conducting in-depth studies, including a Detailed Impact Analysis and archeology reports.
“The DIA comprises a number of environmental, archaeological, traditional-use studies and visitor safety assessments, and is the foundational document informing this project.,” she wrote. “All work was and continues to be scheduled around environmental factors such as the migratory bird nesting period and the presence of fish in streams. We have environmental monitors on site while construction is underway to ensure we are responding to local realities on the ground as the timing of cycles such as salmon spawning can change year to year.”
Copies of the DIA can be requested at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout the trail’s design, the Park Reserve adapted the path’s alignment to lessen the path’s impact on the unique environment it’s being laid through and also followed a Traditional Use Study and advice from local First Nations to avoid any newly discovered archaeological sites.
“By being flexible and adaptable throughout the pathway-building process, we refined the pathway route and design to help reduce the risk of detrimental impacts to the National Park Reserve,” Palanisamy wrote.
Construction began at the Park Reserve’s northern border in 2016 where the trail bed was cleared and a new parking lot was created at Radar Hill. Over the winter of 2017-18, the route from Long Beach’s Incinerator Rock to the Park Reserve’s southern boundary was cleared and the felled trees were removed.
Following principles laid out by an Elders Working Group, the Park Reserve ensured that the removed cedar trees were used to create wooden elements along the pathway and all remaining trees were given to the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ucluelet First Nations, according to Palanisamy.
The work now underway at Wick Road includes clearing trees, bringing in gravel, installing drainage culverts and building bridges.
Hazelwood Construction Services Ltd. has been contracted to complete the work after winning a bidding process that included an Indigenous Benefits Package, which tasked interested contractors with explaining how they would directly benefit members of the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ucluelet First Nations.
Palanisamy noted that the Indigenous Benefits Package commits Hazelwood to providing 34,400 hours of employment and 11,400 hours of training for members of the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ucluelet First Nations.
The trail is expected to be ready for public use in 2022.
“We will have a better sense of when the pathway could be open as the building progresses. As stewards of the land, we are responsible for ensuring the building does not outpace our legal, environmental and social obligations,” Palanisamy wrote. “This includes our environmental obligations, such as respecting the nesting period for migratory birds, as well as minimizing disruption to visitors, where possible, and working with the challenges presented by wet conditions common in this coastal region.”