ON October 11, BC Ferries will harmonize its safety practices with Canadian ferry operators relating to Transport Canada regulations that prohibit passengers from remaining in their vehicle on any closed deck on a vessel that is underway.
Since 2007, BC Ferries has been complying with Transport Canada regulations by maintaining a continuous car deck patrol. BC Ferries and Transport Canada recently re-examined the policy and in an effort to coordinate safety practices will change the application of the regulation.
On larger vessels with both an upper and lower vehicle deck, customers will still be able to remain in their vehicles on the upper vehicle deck. Customers with special circumstances may make a request at the ticket booth to be placed on the upper vehicle deck. Where this is possible, BC Ferries will try and accommodate their request.
“The regulations relate to safety, and the safety of our passengers and employees is a core value for BC Ferries,” said Captain Jamie Marshall, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Fleet Operations.
“Last year we carried 21 million passengers safely to their destinations by keeping safety top-of-mind in every operational decision we made.”
This new policy applies to the lower vehicle decks on the following vessels:
Spirit of British Columbia, 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.
These vessels generally 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.
BC Ferries staff will initially adopt a soft approach to enforcement by informing customers of the Transport Canada regulation and asking them to comply. BC Ferries appreciates there may be a small number of customers who request an exemption to the regulation. Exemptions to the regulations cannot be routinely granted, but employees will do their best to accommodate customers who have unique challenges or special needs that may preclude exiting their vehicle and moving up to the passenger decks. A closed vehicle deck is a space that is closed at both ends with limited side openings.
Access restrictions to closed vehicle decks will not apply when passengers are directed by announcement to return to their vehicles before the vessel docks. The regulation in question is Section 152 of the Cargo, Tackle and Fumigation Regulations under the Canada Shipping Act. For more information, visit tc.gc.ca.