Several signs on Horne Lake Road near Highway 19 tell people it’s not open all the way to Port Alberni, but tourists, either unaware or just hoping for the best, are still trying to head west until they hit a blocked gate farther up.
At Horne Lake Region Park, just before that roadblock, they saw hundreds of people when Highway 4 first closed last week.
“Yeah, there were people from out of the country who were really, really disappointed, and I saw a few tears because they couldn’t get to Tofino,” said Sara Johnson, employee of the Horne Lake Regional Park.
And it was no different next door at Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park.
“Yep, we had a lot of phone calls, a lot of people coming into the visitor centre asking how they get to Ucluelet, and we said, well, ‘You can’t get to Ucluelet,’ and they say, ‘Well, how about Port Alberni?’ And we say, ‘No, you can’t go to Port Alberni either, I’m afraid,'” said Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park operations manager Kyle Girgan.
There could be several reasons, but travellers CHEK News spoke with over the last week blamed Google Maps or other map apps on their phones.
That’s because when you enter Port Alberni, Tofino or Ucluelet as your destination, it knows Highway 4 is closed but still tells you you can drive there via Horne Lake Road. But you actually can’t because it’s closed by Mosaic and not approved as a detour by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Social media posts are being blamed as well.
“I know talking to some of the locals there that they have talked to some of the drivers and told them you can’t get through to Port Alberni, but their response was, well, it’s on Facebook, so I’m going anyway,” added Girgan.
Travellers have told CHEK News it would help if signs on Highway 1 and 19 said Horne Lake Road is not a detour.
The Transportation Ministry told CHEK News there are signs saying Highway 4 is closed and signs closer to the Cowichan detour directing people there. It will be working with BC Ferries to communicate the closure better.
MOTI is encouraging people to use www.drivebc.ca for closure information.