A family crosses the highway at Cathedral Grove. (BLACK PRESS file photo)

A family crosses the highway at Cathedral Grove. (BLACK PRESS file photo)

Cathedral Grove parking, paving at bottom of the ‘Hump’ coming soon for Highway 4

Province pauses plans to blast Angel Rock near Cameron Lake

The province will be finalizing plans for safety improvements to Cathedral Grove this year, and will also be looking at some other improvements along Highway 4 between the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island.

Located in MacMillan Provincial Park, Cathedral Grove is an old-growth forest that has become an international attraction, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area every year. With this popularity, parking issues and pedestrian safety concerns have followed.

Cathedral Grove has been closed to tourists since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic, with fences blocking parking lots and access points.

Stefan Yancey, operations manager with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, explained the ministry has been working on Cathedral Grove “in the background” over the past three years with some engineering and design work. The process was stalled during the 2020 provincial election, but now the ministry is planning one last round of public engagement, scheduled for late spring or early summer 2021.

After this, a final design will be brought forward.

READ MORE: Province turns attention to Cathedral Grove safety improvements

The ministry had previously discussed some blasting work for nearby Angel Rock along Cameron Lake, but Yancey said that this is no longer a priority, mostly due to the $20- to $30-million projected cost. Although a completed, detailed design is ready to go out to tender, the project has been put on hold.

“At the end of the day…we’d still be left with a two-lane roadway but just a one-and-a-half metre paved shoulder,” said Yancey. “We believe that we could probably spend that money on a more feasible project.”

Some construction will take place at a couple different locations on Highway 4 this summer. Paving is planned for a 10-km portion of road near Kennedy Lake, from Draw Creek Bridge to Thunderous Creek Bridge. The ministry will also be paving the “S” curves, located at the bottom of the Port Alberni summit heading eastbound towards Parksville, and adding a pedestrian-activated crosswalk to the intersection of Highway 4 and Chesterman Beach Road.

READ MORE: City of Port Alberni on way to dubious pedestrian safety record

Both Albern-Clayoquot Regional District Long Beach director Kel Roberts and Ucluelet director Rachelle Cole reiterated that communication along Highway 4 is still a priority—and an emergency services issue, as well, said Cole.

But while internet access along Highway 4 has been a wish for West Coast residents and visitors alike, Yancey said wi-fi will probably not be coming to the Kennedy Hill area for a while.

“The power lines that travel through that section are high-voltage power lines,” he explained. “In order to drop power down to that section, we would have to install a transformer and that’s just an estimate of a couple hundred thousand dollars.”

READ MORE: Ucluelet mayor demands Wi-Fi for commuters stuck in Hwy. 4 construction closures

The ACRD board also expressed concerns about the popular Hole in the Wall tourist attraction, which is located off of Highway 4 just outside of Port Alberni. There is no parking, and visitors often park in the lot across the highway at Coombs Country Candy, dodging cars on foot across three lanes of highway traffic.

Access to the site is through private lands, which makes a solution complicated. Cherry Creek director Dianne Bodnar suggested putting up some temporary signage until a solution is found.

“There is nothing there to indicate that people are going to be crossing the highway,” she said.

Yancey said he would bring this up to the ministry’s traffic engineering team.

Port Alberni director Ron Paulson warned that the problem is only getting worse, with the Hole in the Wall advertised as an attraction in some popular tourist publications.

“We do have an opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive in that area,” said Paulson.

READ MORE: Port Alberni’s Hole in the Wall creates safety concerns



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ParksvillePORT ALBERNIqualicum beachTofino,ucluelet

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

Destroyed window at Ministry of Social Development offices in Campbell River. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police investigating arson in downtown Campbell River

Fire set at BC Employment and Assistance Office

May 3-9 was Mental Health Week, and the Campbell River RCMP is encouraging people, especially men, to seek emotional help if it’s needed. Black Press file photo
Campbell River RCMP encouraging men to seek emotional help if needed

‘Taking care of our Mental Health is not simply about accessing counselling,’ says Const. Maury Tyre

Campbell River’s waste collection schedule will be changing after Victoria Day. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Campbell River Garbage pickup schedule changing after May Long Weekend

Pickup day will change after every statutory holiday

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read