As rescue and relief efforts ramp up in areas hardest hit by flooding and mudslides, the B.C. government brought in two new orders under the state of emergency it declared on Wednesday.
The first measure announced by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was that the Province will be prioritizing access to gasoline on Vancouver Island, southwestern British Columbia and the Sunshine Coast.
Under the new order, which will last the next 10 to 11 days, emergency vehicles and essential vehicles will have unrestricted access to gas at pumps in these locations. Non-essential vehicles, including the general public, will be limited to 30 litres per visit, says Farnworth.
“There will be shortages, but we are taking this important step to maintain our supply of gasoline,” said Farnworth.
Under the order, Farnworth notes that gas stations will be required to ensure their gasoline reserves last until December 1, 2021.
Farnworth acknowledges that there will be delays at gas stations over the next 11 days and asks British Columbians to remain patient and allow for extra time during each visit.
“When our province is faced with an emergency, British Columbians step up,” Farnworth said. “We have a steady supply of gas to support all our essential vehicles and we will get through these restrictions together by staying calm, only buying what we need and looking out for each other. These measures are necessary during temporary shortages as work is underway to re-establish B.C.’s fuel supply.”
The Province is also suggesting that, while supplies are limited, people look at alternative forms of transportation such as public transport or carpooling.
Under the order as well, retail gas stations and wholesale distributors will be prohibited from profit-margin price gouging and people will be prohibited from buying gas for the purpose of reselling it.
This measure is being taken as the Province scrambles to restore roadways and re-establish the flow of fuel through the Transmountain Pipeline that has been offline as a result of the recent weather events.
This order will not affect natural gas or heating oil used to heat homes, notes the government.
The second order issued by the government prohibits non-essential travel along highways that have been severely affected by the recent weather.
This includes sections of Highway 99, Highway 3, and Highway 7 — none of which are located on Vancouver Island.
“There are circumstances where travel is essential and permitted, specifically for the movement of any goods that are necessary for the health, safety and well-being of British Columbians,” notes the Province, suggesting that once the backlog of essential traffic clears, restrictions can be eased.
Farnworth said during a live press conference that the new orders are intended to help keep commercial traffic moving, stabilize supply chains and ensure that everyone gets home safely.
These measures are enacted under the provincial state of emergency, declared by Premier John Horgan earlier this week.
Below are the specific details for each highway with non-essential travel restrictions in B.C.:
- Highway 99: from the junction of Highway 99 and Lillooet River Road to the BC Hydro Seton Lake Campsite access in Lillooet. Only passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles up to 14,500 kilograms will be permitted.
- Highway 3: from the junction of Highway 5 and Highway 3 in Hope to the west entrance to Princeton from Highway 3.
- Highway 7: from the junction of Highway 7 and Highway 9 in Agassiz to the junction of Highway 7 and Highway 1 in Hope.