Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, centre, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria on Sept. 9, 2020.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

Premier John Horgan says he has already begun pressing the federal government to reverse a decision requiring passengers on major BC Ferries routes to leave their vehicles on enclosed decks.

The company announced Wednesday that Transport Canada had rescinded the temporary flexibility granted to ferry operators that allowed passengers to remain in their cars to allow them to self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re in the throes of moving resources into public transit whether it be BC Transit, TransLink and BC Ferries, just so we can stabilize our public transit systems,” Mr. Horgan said.

Story continues below advertisement

“This is an unwelcome intrusion by the federal government at this time and we’re going to pursue this aggressively.”

Mr. Horgan described the rule as “heavy-handed” and said he has raised the issue with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Transport Canada granted the flexibility in the spring as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold to allow for increased physical distancing.

BC Ferries said Wednesday that beginning Sept. 30, customers must leave enclosed vehicle decks aboard most large vessels.

The ferry company has implemented a number of additional health and safety measures since the pandemic began including cleaning, sanitizing and mandatory mask use, it said.

The company will also reopen certain areas of the vessels, such as the Pacific Buffet on “spirit class” vessels for seating only, as a way to provide passengers with more space.

The procedure for clearing the main vehicle deck will be reapplied on three Metro Vancouver to Vancouver Island routes, as well as sailings between Comox and Powell River, and Tsawwassen and the southern Gulf Islands.

Story continues below advertisement

However, BC Ferries said Transport Canada granted its approval to allow passengers to remain in their vehicles on the main car deck between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale.

“The vessels on the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route operate in ‘sheltered’ waters as defined by Transport Canada,” BC Ferries says in a service notice.

“BC Ferries received approval from Transport Canada to operate the ships on that route with the stern doors open, which makes the deck an ‘open’ vehicle deck.”

The company also added a new steel barrier gate across the opening for safety and warns that if the stern doors need to be closed for any reason, customers will be asked to leave their vehicles.

Mr. Horgan said the marine highway is an integral part of the province’s transportation network and BC Ferries is an essential service for many British Columbians.

“We believe that we can safely transport people provided that we have support, co-operation from Ottawa. This is not something we sought, this is something that’s being opposed.”

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies