Tofino and Ucluelet hope to push back Highway 4 closures

Tofino and Ucluelet hope to push back Highway 4 closures

Governments and businesses say extra hour would help economy.

A $30 million upgrade means closures are coming to the only road between the West Coast and the rest of Vancouver Island and local leaders believe an extra hour of access could make a big difference to the project’s palatability.

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has unveiled a proposed two-year closure window that includes three schedules depending on the season. Each schedule contains daily delays and three closures of two to three hours each night. Concern from local leaders is focused on the first closure each night, which starts at 9 p.m. from March 1 to June 15 and September 15 to March 1.

Between June 15-September 15, that first closure starts an hour later at 10pm.

Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques believes pushing the 9 p.m. closures to 10 p.m. all year would help the tourism economy because many visitors, especially ones taking a BC Ferry, arrive at Port Alberni’s side of the highway between 9-10 p.m.

“It’s just an hour. I understand their challenges on the hill, I get that,” she said. “But, at the same time, this is our base economy out here on the Coast. We’re resort municipalities and they need to take that into serious consideration…If it gets too awkward out there, people are going to go somewhere else for their vacation.”

She said Ucluelet has asked for the later closure and is awaiting response from the Ministry.

“They have been receptive so far, but I haven’t seen anything in writing in regards to the change so I’m hoping to see that,” she said. “Not only for our ourselves that live here, because quite often I’m on the road at 9 p.m. at night, but also for our visitors and our economy.”

Tofino’s business community is also pushing for the extra hour, according to the Tofino Long Beach Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jen Dart.

“The board is contacting the Ministry of Driving and Transportation to express the opinion that the closure should be 10 p.m. year-round in order to reduce confusion for travellers and provide consistency,” Dart told the Westerly News in an email. “As we all know, travellers are coming to the West Coast throughout the year, and the Chamber board wants to ensure those travellers are well informed by eliminating any confusion around timed closures.”

She added the chamber is working with Tofino and Ucluelet’s Destination Marketing Organizations on a communications strategy to ensure visitors are aware of the closure times.

“This project will be important to provide a smoother driving experience to everyone who uses Hwy. 4, but keeping those users in mind over the duration of the two-year project is paramount,” she said. “Also to that end, the Chamber is pleased to be working with Tourism Tofino to help disseminate their communications plan for use by accommodation and tour providers.”

The Ministry wrapped up two public information sessions last month and a spokesperson told the Westerly that the hour-later closure was an oft-brought request from locals.

“Ministry staff, during the open houses, heard this concern from the public,” the spokesperson said adding all feedback received will be reviewed over the next few weeks. “We’re going to take all the input, have a look at it and make some decisions based on people’s feedback.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

JJ Belanger is running for mayor in Tofino’s March 6 byelection. (Photo courtesy of JJ Belanger)
Belanger enters Tofino’s mayoralty race

Belanger is former chair of Tourism Tofino and current general manager of Crystal Cove Beach Resort.

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Janice and Martin Green are grateful for their town’s community paramedicine program. (Photo courtesy of Janice Green)
Community paramedicine program a lifesaver in Tofino-Ucluelet

“It makes us feel more comfortable here knowing that we do have emergency services that kick in.”

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

Most Read