Home / Discover Canada / Highway 4 closure cost Tofino, Ucluelet businesses $44 million: survey

Highway 4 closure cost Tofino, Ucluelet businesses $44 million: survey


The closure of a key Vancouver Island highway due to an aggressive wildfire in June has cost businesses on the west coast an estimated $44 million, according to a new survey.

Highway 4 was closed for 17 days last month, and continues to suffer intermittent closures for repairs due to the Cameron Bluffs wildfire.

The highway is the only paved road connecting Port Alberni, Tofino, Ucluelet and other west coast communities with the rest of Vancouver Island.

The loss of the critical road hit businesses just as they were gearing up for the busy season, according to the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce (TLBCC).

The organization and its sister agencies in Ucluelet and Port Alberni recently surveyed businesses to get a sense of the economic damage.

“Businesses that rely on tourism – which make up the majority on the west coast – were prepared for the busy season with full levels of supplies and staff when the fire shut down Hwy. 4,” the Tofino chamber said.

Many of the businesses were not eligible for business interruption insurance or government assistance, it added.

According to the survey, Tofino businesses estimated their combined losses at $29.7 million. Businesses in nearby Ucluelet estimated their losses at about $14 million.

The survey did not capture estimated losses in the Alberni Valley.

“This incident highlights an oversight when it comes to supporting small businesses,” TLBCC president Laura McDonald said in a media release.

“While there are emergency services for individuals, no such support mechanisms exist to help businesses weather these types of events, which can be prolonged. We would welcome a discussion with the provincial and federal governments about a disaster fund for small business.”

The challenges for the region are not over, despite Highway 4 reopening to single-lane alternating traffic on June 23.

The Ministry of Transportation has announced daily closures on the route from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. so that crews can complete rock scaling work needed to fully reopen the highway.

That work is not expected to be complete until mid-August.

In the meantime, Port Alberni’s mayor has launched a call for the province to complete a second highway route to the community to prevent it from being cut off again in the future.


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