‘It’s a public risk’: Ditidaht First Nation wanting repairs in and out of the community before it’s too late

CHEK

The only road that leads in and out of the Ditidaht First Nation is becoming harder to rely on, according to community members and the Nation’s chief.

The Ditidaht First Nation is a small community located on the southwest of Vancouver Island. Its traditional territory has inhabited the land around Nitinaht Lake and beyond since time immemorial.

The Nation has a total of 764 members but not all members live on reserve due to the state of the only logging road in and out of the community.

Elsie Antuna is a member of the Ditidaht First Nation but lives in Brentwood Bay. She would love to eventually return home, but access to the remote community is standing in the way.

Anutuna needs to be able to come and go to access the medical support she needs, but the condition of the only road in and out makes that all but impossible.

“I think if they took the roads and built it better, secured it better, it would be a lot safer for our people,” she said.

Antuna hasn’t been back in over four years. She held back tears while telling CHEK News about her late mother and her experiences with the road.

“She hit every tree on the way down, she said the whole roof of the vehicle had gotten crunched down. I think it was her size that saved her life then,” said Antuna.

Grant Daly has been running his auto centre just steps away from the treacherous road for the past 44 years. Daly knows all too well how dangerous the road is and he’s not optimistic for its future.

“There is talk that apparently there’s some money going to be spent on the road. We’re hoping to see that, but honestly, I’ve heard this a lot, and it’s never happened,” said Daly.

Community members who live on reserve are concerned about whether the road is safe enough not only for elders, but for all Vancouver Island residents. Tina Joseph live in community and wants to see improvements sooner rather than later.

“We don’t want to wait until we have a fatality of a community member or a visitor here to do something about our road. I think that we need to be proactive and do something before something happens before a life is lost,” said Joseph.

SEE ALSO: Safety upgrades to Bamfield Road completed 4 years after UVic tragedy

Ditidaht Chief Judi Thomas agrees with Joseph and wants tangible action to take place between Mosaic Forestry, the provincial government and the Nation.

“It’s a public risk. What needs to happen is all parties need to come together and come up with a solution. It would be nice to have a formal agreement in place between all the stakeholders involved as well. I want clear certainty,” exclaimed Thomas.

When asked about the difficult road in and out, B.C Premier David Eby told CHEK News, “I’m not familiar with that specific issue of the potholes and the Dtidaht road, but I can say generally in the budget this year we put significant resources into roads to assist with access to First Nations communities.”‘

In a statement to CHEK News, Mosaic Forestry Management noted that when road issues arise or hazards are reported, it takes the necessary steps to address and undertake repairs.

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