B.C. extends gas rationing order, state of emergency until Dec. 14
The ongoing impacts of a series of intense storms on B.C.'s South Coast have prompted the government to extend its gasoline rationing order and state of emergency for another two weeks.
Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth announced the extensions on Monday, as communities grappled with fresh flooding and new highway closures caused by the latest atmospheric river to reach the province's southwest.
"The significant weather that we have seen continues to create challenges," Farnworth said. "The fuel conservation measures are working, and I want to thank British Columbians for their patience, but we need to stay the course for another two weeks."
The rationing order is now scheduled to remain in place until Dec. 14, allowing more time to get the Trans Mountain pipeline operational again.
That pipeline, which normally carries roughly 300,000 barrels of oil from Alberta to Burnaby per day, has been shut down since the historic storm that struck two weeks ago.
Under the order, drivers of non-essential vehicles are only allowed to fill up 30 litres of gasoline per stop at stations across the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Gulf Islands.
The measure is designed to ensure commercial and emergency vehicles can continue operating throughout the province's storm response, and amid ongoing supply chain problems.
When the order was initially announced on Nov. 19, it sent many drivers rushing out to the pumps, creating long lineups that resulted in some stations running out of fuel.
Officials have said they're working to prevent shortages using "new ways" of bringing gasoline into the province, including by truck and barge from as far away as California.
The province-wide state of emergency will remain in place throughout Dec. 14 as well. Farnworth said that will bolster the government's "response and recovery from the widespread damage already caused by flooding, while positioning us to take all necessary steps in the days ahead."
B.C. is bracing for its third atmospheric river in less than a week to arrive on Tuesday, delivering more heavy rain to communities that remain flooded from previous storms.
Environment and Climate Change Canada is forecasting another 100 millimetres of rain could fall in parts of the Lower Mainland, and that parts of Vancouver Island could see up to 200 millimetres.
"It's not just a rain event, it's not just a snow melting event, it's also a successive storm event," meteorologist Armel Castellan said.
"Even if the third storm is not as bad as it could have been in the modelling leading up to today, it will be problematic because they are coming so close back to back with the runoff and the saturated soil."
Rainfall from Saturday through Sunday morning sent trees, rocks and debris tumbling onto several highways in the Lower Mainland, though the impact was nowhere near as bad as the Nov. 14 storm, which damaged or destroyed an estimated 200 points along the roads.
Highways 3 and 99, which were pre-emptively closed Saturday in anticipation of the weather, have already been reopened, though parts of each are limited to essential travel.
Highway 1, which was hit by a landslide over the weekend, remains closed from Abbotsford to Chilliwack and Popkum to Hope.
"With more heavy rains forecast we will continue to monitor all of our highways in the region," Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said Monday. "Unless it is absolutely necessary, I would encourage you to stay off the roads through this next storm event."
Officials have urged anyone who does decide to travel during intense storms to be prepared with food, water, warm clothes, a blanket and an emergency kit.
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