Locals contemplate bringing in supplies by boat as Tofino remains isolated by landslide
TOFINO -- Traffic has once again been stopped in both directions along Highway 4, severing Vancouver Island's east-west road connection until further notice.
The closure came into effect at noon on Saturday so crews could focus on installing a 20-metre, single-lane, temporary bridge at Kennedy Hill.
The Kennedy Hill upgrade site was compromised on Thursday when a regular construction blast also brought down more than crews bargained for.
According to Mike Pearson, district manager of transportation for Vancouver Island for the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure: "When the debris from the blast hit the existing road, an existing retaining wall on the highway failed, which caused the entire lane of the road to fall down the slope."
The road had been opened twice on Friday for short periods to allow some motorists to pass through the area, but that was only for cars and light pick-ups. This means that heavier vehicles – particularly those bringing in supplies or fuel – are prohibited.
At the Tofino Co-op gas station, staff are trying to conserve the remaining fuel supplies.
Rick Vincent, the Co-op's operations manager, says the regular fuel dispensary has been shut down and mid-grade fuel is being sold at the regular-grade price level to allow reserves to last longer.
"We're trying to extend that as much as we can, but I think towards the end of today we'll have to keep the reserves for emergency vehicles only," Vincent said.
The Co-op's vegetables and dairy products had almost all been depleted by Friday afternoon and the store's manager said staff members were investigating the possibility of bringing in supplies via barge if the road didn't reopen soon.
Meanwhile, the owner of a Ucluelet-based adventure company has offered up his services and his vessel the "Nootka Princess" to shuttle passengers and/or supplies between his community and Port Alberni.
Caleb Cameron of Cameron Ocean Adventures says the trek would take five hours in each direction and says he's already received several positive comments about his offer.
"It's actually been quite an incredible response to it so far and it's pretty awesome to see all the locals and everybody else chiming in and showing support for what we're doing" Cameron says.
The ministry is hoping drivers in light vehicles as well as heavier trucks will have access to Highway 4 again by either late Sunday or sometime on Monday.