An electronic sign at the Tofino-Ucluelet junction notifies travellers heading towards Sutton Pass that closure windows are in effect Thursday morning. (Andrew Bailey photo)

An electronic sign at the Tofino-Ucluelet junction notifies travellers heading towards Sutton Pass that closure windows are in effect Thursday morning. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Survey swirls up confusion around Tofino-Ucluelet highway closures

“The Highway 4 Kennedy Hill Project closure times remain the same for now,” ministry says

Construction on Hwy. 4 looks to be ending the year the same way it began it, covered in confusion.

The provincial and federal government’s $38 million Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project has been bringing daily planned closures, along with frustratingly frequent unplanned closures, to Hwy. 4 since the project began in 2018.

The project’s contractor Emil Anderson Construction launched an online survey on Nov. 23, explaining that West Coast residents and businesses had raised concerns over a current 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. planned closure window and asking people to respond to the survey if they wanted that time changed.

The survey’s deadline for responses was Nov. 25 and on Nov. 26 the contractor posted that the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. closure would change to 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning on Jan 4 based on the survey’s results.

Thank you to everyone that participated in our survey. The majority of people requested us to change our closures to…

Posted by EAC Hwy 4 Kennedy Hill Project Updates on Thursday, November 26, 2020

However, B.C.’s ministry of transportation and infrastructure, which is overseeing the project and splitting its $38 million bill with the federal government, says the schedule has not changed.

“The Highway 4 Kennedy Hill Project closure times remain the same for now, as previously announced earlier this fall,” a Ministry spokesperson told the Westerly News via email. “The ministry is currently in discussions with the contractor on the scheduled blasting times. We recognize that public feedback and stakeholder input is important on the scheduled closures and we will be taking this information into consideration before approving any changes to the daily closure window.”

The ministry spokesperson added that the contractor’s survey was not conducted or approved by the ministry.

“We understand that Emil Anderson Construction was looking to better understand community need regarding Highway 4 Kennedy Hill closure times. This is helpful information for the ministry to consider,” they said. “Decisions around closure times are typically made by taking a variety of factors into consideration, including meeting community needs, safety requirements and contractual obligations…Consistent and reliable closure times have been continually expressed as an important consideration following a series of long and unplanned closures in spring 2020.”

The spokesperson said the ministry plans to reach out to its local partners and stakeholders for further feedback and, if any official schedule changes are made, the public would be advised.

The project was initially expected to be completed by the summer of 2020, but it has blown past that mark and is now hoped to be wrapped up by the summer of 2021.

“Factors affecting the timeline include the need for more complex blasts due to variable rock, COVID-19, increased environmental protections, repairs to Highway 4 resulting from blasting damage, and works shifting into winter,” the spokesperson said. “The new blasting regime involves much smaller blasts to ensure that the highway is reopened within the announced closures timeframes…We expect blasting of the bluffs above the highway, and the corresponding four-hour closures to be complete by next summer.”

Whether the project is on pace to hit its $38 million budget is up in the air as costs are still being hammered out.

“The ministry continues to work with Emil Anderson Construction in advancing the project through the challenging site conditions.” the spokesperson said.

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel commended the contractor for reaching out to the community through the survey.

“I want to give credit to the contractor for taking the survey. Although a lot of us might say it’s a bit late, I believe that it’s better late than never,” Noel told the Westerly News Thursday morning.

He added that while the ministry has not yet approved the changes, he hopes the survey’s results will lead to more community engagement around the highway closures.

“The survey obviously has some value behind it. We know that it clearly displays that 9 a.m. was not an appropriate time,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in the medical community pushing for 10 a.m. and it sounds like a lot of people like 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. So, that’s a great starting point, we’ve never had that information prior to now. Let’s move forward and we’ll wait for the ministry of transportation to work with the contractor to see if that works for them.”

He said the District of Ucluelet was not notified that the survey would be posted.

“We obviously hope that they will engage with us and ask us how we’re doing, but at the end of the day we have no skin in the game,” he said. “We’re basically just informed like the general public.”

The Westerly News reached out to Emil Anderson Construction, but did not immediately hear back.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Tofino chamber says Hwy. 4 closure schedule hurting businesses and residents

READ MORE: Timeline pushed back for Tofino-Ucluelet highway construction project

READ MORE: Ucluelet and Tofino mayors call for “calmness” and “empathy” as highway closure cuts communities off from supplies


Just Posted

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Amphitrite Point lighthouse on Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail during a massive winter storm. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet’s Official Community Plan public hearing goes ahead despite push back

A petition calling on Ucluelet council to postpone the May 13 virtual event fails to deter

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chief says community “devastated” by third police shooting

Woman shot by Ucluelet RCMP in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8.

Tofino is adding to its planning department to keep up with rising interest in residential development in town. (Westerly file photo)
Interest in residential development rising in Tofino

District of Tofino boosting planning department.

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Could Victoria skull fragment bring closure to an Island missing persons mystery?

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read