(Wikimedia Commons/Kam Abbott)

Major changes coming to BC Ferries

Passengers no longer allowed to remain on lower vehicle deck and complete smoking ban coming in 2018.

There are some major changes coming to BC Ferries.

Passengers will no longer be allowed to remain on the lower vehicle decks starting Oct. 11, and all vessels will be completely smoke free in January 2018.

Announced today, BC Ferries’ President and CEO Mark Collins says they decided to make all vessels smoke-free to “support the health and wellness of our customers and employees, as it helps control their exposure to second-hand smoke.”

BC Ferries had announced they were considering implementing a new smoking policy back in December of 2016, and had expected to make an announcement this year.

RELATED: BC Ferries policy changes expected in 2017

BC Ferries made the decision to provide a smoke-free environment for the travelling public and our employees on board our ships and at our terminals,” Collins continued, adding this is being done to provide people with advance notice of the policy change — which officially comes into effect January 22, 2018.

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The new safety practices will align with Transport Canada regulations that prohibit passengers from remaining in their vehicle on any closed deck when a vessel is underway.

“The regulations relate to safety, and the safety of our passengers and employees is a core value for BC Ferries,” said Captain Jamie Marshall, Vice President of Fleet Operations.

Customers will continue to be permitted to stay in vehicles on the upper (opened) car decks.

This new policy applies to the lower vehicle decks on the following vessels that 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.

  • 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

Smoke free sailings

The smoke-free policy will apply to tobacco, marijuana and e-cigarettes, and is expected to reduce the number of customer complaints about smoking on BC Ferries’ vessels. Signs will go up on board and on shore as a reminder of the change in policy.

BC Ferries reminded passengers this summer that they would be looking out for impaired drivers and walk-ons, who risk being reported to police.

RELATED: Passengers should avoid alcohol and drugs

In a media release, BC Ferries noted that the province of B.C. amended smoking regulations that increased buffer zones around any doorway, intake or open window at any public space or workplace, to six meters. That means that all vessels will need to become smoke-free environments, due to physical space constraints.

“Smoking tobacco continues to be one of the single largest threats to the health of British Columbians and our visitors,” stated Island Health’s Dr. Dee Hoyano, Medical Health Officer in the release. “By going smoke-free in its terminals and on its vessels, BC Ferries is supporting healthier, cleaner and safer environments for everyone.”

BC Ferries has also launched an employee smoking cessation program, to coincide with the new policy.

RELATED: BC Ferries reports record-breaking traffic in first quarter

The company reported this month that driver and passenger traffic was the highest it’s ever been in over 20 years for the months of April, May and June.

editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

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