A new Bella Coola access road needed


There is a strong case for an alternate road for Bella Coola.


There is a strong case for an alternate road for Bella Coola.

Over the past three years, the only Bella Coola access road has suffered through two forest fires followed by a flood.

Now there is a planned road closure at the start of tourist season.

Certainly forest fires and floods are unpredictable events, but a planned road closure is something that could have been timed for off season.

This event is not only hurtful to the economy of the greater area but, as well, in some parts of the Coast/Chilcotin it amounts to economic devastation.

Tourism is often based on access and good word of mouth advertising.

Frustration and lack of adequate hygiene facilities while waiting to continue a trip can be the worst kind of advertising that people can take away from an area.

With these unplanned and planned road closures it further emphasizes the need for an alternate access route to the Central Coast.

Some 58 years ago the government accepted the Freedom Highway as built by the pioneer road builders of Bella Coola and its board of trade.

Earlier the prior government scoffed at the idea that the people of Bella Coola could actually build a road.

The government changed in that year and the new government was more helpful; however, their help was limited.

The rules had been set down by the prior government; these rules were that the Freedom Highway builders could not use any existing surveys.

Had the board of trade received help and assistance one such survey dated 1919/20 might have changed the whole dynamics of achieving the plateau and the distance from the foot of the Hill to Anahim Lake.

To achieve the plateau on the existing road one must climb 1,190 metres over 18.5 kilometers with switchbacks and grades up to 18 per cent. In contrast, the 1919/20 survey would allow the plateau to be achieved in 8.7 kilometers with 6 per cent grades, with an elevation difference of only 400 metres and no switchbacks.

Additionally the distance between the foot of the hill and Anahim Lake would be 17.5 kilometers shorter.


Doug Wilson

Williams Lake

Williams Lake Tribune