The dangers of the road to Bamfield on Vancouver Island, where two University of Victoria students died in Friday’s bus crash, were brought up in a 2008 report by British Columbia’s forest safety ombudsman.
The report from Roger Harris, the ombudsman who still holds the position today, looked at the status of the province’s 400,000 kilometres of gravel roads. In the report, Harris warned the provincial government about numerous communities in B.C., including Bamfield, that are only accessible by old logging roads that are not adequately maintained.
It quoted a community member from a 2007 town hall, who said: “Bamfield is no longer a logging town. We have over 3,500 students participating in marine programs and 16,000 man-days used by researchers at the Marine Institute. It scares me the thought of those school and tour buses on the road each day.”
The report recommended the province establish a new road designation for resource roads that serve as primary or secondary access to communities in B.C. “that has clearly defined standards for construction, maintenance, enforcement and be funded/resourced similarly to the public highway system.”
Another recommendation was to give “strong consideration” to extending the B.C. highways system model for compliance and enforcement of commercial vehicle regulations and inspections to the new road designation.
Harris’s report was endorsed by the B.C. Forest Practices Board, the independent watchdog for forestry practices in the province.
Chief Councillor Robert Dennis with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations was one of the first to come across the crash site on Friday, where John Geerdes and Emma Machado, both 18, were killed when the bus rolled over. The bus was heading to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre.
Several others were injured in the crash, which is the latest of many to have happened on the road.
A petition has been created on change.org, asking the provincial and federal government to improve the quality of the road to Bamfield.
Read the full report from 2008 below