File photo.

BC Ferries has announced that passengers will not be allowed to remain in their vehicles on enclosed lower car decks starting in October.

The company will also ban smoking on all vessels and at all terminals in January 2018.

As of Oct. 11, customers who drive onto a lower contained car deck will have to leave while the vessel is sailing. The new policy applies to the lower vehicle decks on 18 vessels that operate on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen – Duke Point, Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay, Horseshoe Bay – Langdale, Powell River – Comox, Tsawwassen –Southern Gulf Islands, Port Hardy – Prince Rupert and Prince Rupert – Haida Gwaii routes. The policy also applies to the vessel that will operate the Port Hardy – Bella Coola route.

The vessels that are included in the new policy are:

  • the Spirit of British Columbia,
  • the Spirit of Vancouver Island,
  • Coastal Renaissance,
  • Coastal Inspiration,
  • Coastal Celebration,
  • Queen of Alberni,
  • Queen of Coquitlam,
  • Queen of Cowichan,
  • Queen of New Westminster,
  • Queen of Oak Bay,
  • Queen of Surrey,
  • Queen of Nanaimo,
  • Salish Orca,
  • Salish Eagle,
  • Salish Raven,
  • Northern Expedition,
  • Northern Adventure,
  • New vessel servicing Port Hardy – Bella
    Coola
Passengers will still be allowed to remain in their vehicles on upper decks. The access restriction will not apply when passengers are directed by an announcement to return to their vehicles before the ferry docks.

In December, the company said it was required to required to comply with Transport Canada regulations that prohibit passengers from remaining in their vehicle on any closed deck on a vessel that is underway.

“Recently, Transport Canada has reviewed the risk level for things like fires on vehicle decks and have decided that their application of this regulation needs to changed and that change requires all passengers on car decks to proceed up to the passenger decks,” Darren Johnston, the director of fleet operations for BC Ferries said. his will bring bc ferries in line with all other operators in

“This will bring BC Ferries in line with all other operators in Canada and for that part around the world.”

 

BC Ferries said it will initially adopt a “soft approach” to enforcement by informing customers about the new policy and asking them to comply. The company said customers with special circumstances may make a request at the ticket booth to be placed on the upper vehicle deck and employees will do their best to accommodate them.

Smoking ban also announced

On Jan. 22, 2018, BC Ferries will ban smoking on all of its vessels and at all of its terminals. The ban is due to the province amending regulations for no smoking buffer zones around any doorway, intake or open window to any public or workplace from three metres to six metres.

“Due to the physical space available from doors on the outer decks of BC Ferries’ large vessels and on the vehicle decks of smaller vessels, the new regulation means all vessels will need to become
smoke-free environments,” the company said in a statement.

All BC Ferries properties will become smoke-free to limit customers and employees’ exposure to second-hand smoke. The new policy will apply to tobacco, marijuana (including medical marijuana), vapour products and e-cigarettes. BC Ferries said medical marijuana users can either use edible products or manage their medical issues before or after they travel.

The company will be making announcements on board the vessels and at the terminals to remind customers about the smoke-free policy. There will also be signs placed on board the vessels and at the terminals.

BC Ferries will provide advanced notice of the policy change. It has also launched an employee smoking cessation program. Employees will not be allowed to smoke on BC Ferries property as of January 2018.

 

 

Alexa Huffman