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A key highway that connects communities on the west coat of Vancouver Island closed due to high winds, hours after it was partially reopened.

The province says Highway 4 is closed in both directions for seven kilometres between Cathedral Grove and Koen Road. In a news release, the government says the sustained high winds pose safety concerns for cranes suspending protective wire mesh at the site. Officials say the mesh must be lowered, and it will take several hours to raise the cranes and mesh back into place once the high winds die down.

Earlier in the day, the Transportation Ministry said that Highway 4 east of Port Alberni would operate with single-lane alternating traffic for a two-kilometre stretch.

The highway was closed June 6 as a wildfire burned up the slope, leaving cutoff communities including Tofino and Ucluelet to rely on a back road detour that will remain available until the highway is fully operational.

The ministry has said a full reopening is expected some time next month, but it’s unclear if that timeline remains the same.

In the meantime, the province has temporarily closed three day-use parks in the area to help reduce traffic congestion, including MacMillan Provincial Park, the home of centuries-old trees in Cathedral Grove, and the picnic areas of Cameron Lake and Beaufort in Little Qualicum Falls.

The wildfire that closed the route has been declared “under control” by the BC Wildfire Service.

Josie Osborne, B.C.’s energy minister and representative for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, thanked people for their patience while work was under way to reopen the highway.

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