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Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet chambers collaborate on Hwy 4 closure report

Business leaders investigate impacts of Hwy. 4 closures due to wildfires near Cameron Bluffs
Wildfires created extended closures on Hwy. 4 near Cameron Bluffs over the summer. (Alberni Valley News file photo)

A collaborative effort led by the Alberni Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce and the Tofino Long Beach Chamber of Commerce is looking into the impacts of the Hwy. 4 closure due to wildfires over the summer.

“Huge thank you to Island Coastal Economic Trust and Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot (CFAC) for supporting this project that will look at the impacts of the Hwy. 4 closure earlier this year on the three communities of Tofino, Ucluelet and Port Alberni,” read a social media post by the Tofino chamber on Nov. 27.

The Tofino chamber conducted a survey of West Coast businesses that suggested the 17-day road closure at Cameron Bluffs in June caused roughly $50 million of lost revenue in Tofino and Ucluelet.

The Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce is now developing a strategic recovery plan aimed at addressing economic priorities following the wildfires-caused closure thanks to an investment from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Investment Readiness Program.

“The initial two-week closure, followed by scheduled road restrictions for rock scaling and ongoing disruptions due to weather and stabilization events, inflicted huge economic and social hardships on our region,” said Alberni chamber CEO Jolleen Dick in an announcement last week.

“This socio-economic impact assessment will go a long way towards ensuring economic resilience in the Alberni-Clayoquot region.”

The announcement adds that the closures shut down a vital transportation route, impacting the flow of goods, services, and travellers.

“The proposed initiative involves an examination of the losses suffered by local businesses and industries. A consultant will be hired to uncover the immediate needs of the business community and inform targeted support measures,” the announcement reads.

“The collaboration also extends to engaging rightsholders, local governments, and key stakeholders to develop a strategic recovery plan that addresses economic priorities.”

The project will produce a report on consensus regional priorities for both the provincial and federal governments as well as related agencies lobbying for investments into “economic recovery and resilience” for communities within the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

It also aims to help communities collaborate on disaster planning and identify gaps where changes are needed.

“The region’s economies, reliant on industries such as tourism, forestry, and agriculture, were severely affected by this unexpected disruption,” said Island Coastal Economic Trust chair Aaron Stone.

“We are grateful to be partnering on this collaborative project that brings people together to identify concrete solutions for business continuity, disaster response planning, and long-term economic resilience.”

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READ MORE: Survey shows Hwy. 4 closure cost Tofino-Ucluelet businesses $44M

READ MORE: Highway closure costs Islanders millions in tourism, business challenges

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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