North Island-Powell River MP, Rachel Blaney and federal Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau have been corresponding over the decision to ban ferry passengers from lower car decks. (Black Press Media file photo)

Vancouver Island MP and Minister Garneau exchange letters on BC Ferries safety regulations

MP Blaney asks minister Garneau to explain to British Columbians the ‘reasoning’ behind ferry passengers being banned from lower car decks

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney and federal Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau exchanged letters on BC Ferries safety regulations where the NDP whip expressed her dissatisfaction with Ottawa’s decision to ban passengers from remaining on the lower car decks during the pandemic.

Blaney called on Garneau to explain to British Columbians the reasoning behind the recent decision and said that, “a government-knows-best attitude from Transport Canada in Ottawa is obviously not inspiring confidence here on the west coast.”

On Sept.10, Blaney wrote to Garneau objecting to the ministry’s decision to rescind an exception that allowed passengers to remain in their vehicles on several routes, including the Powell River-Comox ferry, in order to decrease contact during the COVID pandemic.

Since the announcement that the exception would end Sept. 30, many coastal residents who rely on the ferries as well as workers, community leaders and the BC Government have raised concerns.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will not be over by Sept. 30”, wrote Blaney. “The risk of transmission in enclosed spaces, such as ferry passenger decks on busy sailings, remains high.”

Minister Garneau responded to the letter on Monday suggesting that “wearing a face mask, washing your hands regularly, and physical distancing” were enough to mitigate the risk of COVID transmission while on board, and that passengers can simply ask to be loaded onto partially enclosed decks instead.

He also highlighted some important safety concerns related to passengers remaining in their vehicles on fully enclosed decks in his letter to Blaney.

“Enclosed decks are specifically designed to contain smoke and fire, in order to protect the other levels of the ship and allow more time for those passengers to safely evacuate. On these decks, fueled vehicles, bulk and dangerous goods are often parked tightly together. If something were to happen–say a fire, flooding or collision –evacuating everyone safely would be difficult and potentially dangerous,” said Garneau.

Following minister Garneau’s response, Blaney has asked for the data or risk-assessment that supported the decision.

She also asked what measures Transport Canada is taking to ensure the safety of passengers and of BC Ferries workers who have been bearing the brunt of passenger’s frustration adding, “there is an obvious disconnect between the decisions being made at Transport Canada and what is happening on the ground.”

BCFerriesTransportation

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

Just Posted

The students in the Timberline Musical Theatre program rehearse this year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, three days per week after school in preparation for next month’s virtual performances. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Timberline’s popular musical goes online for 2021

Once Upon a Mattress will be streamed right to your living room thanks to school’s AV department

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

A fire broke out near the Willow Point Bottle Depot early on Jan. 22. Photo courtesy Ashley Laycock
Two injured in early-morning fire in Campbell River

Sailboat fire also attended by Campbell River fire crews

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Most Read