Gas rationing in effect in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, other areas as highway repairs continue
The B.C. government has issued new orders rationing the province's limited gasoline supply and restricting travel on several storm-impacted highways.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the new measures are necessary to ensure the movement of "essential people, goods and services" as the province continues dealing with the flooding, mudslides and other impacts of this week's historic weather event.
"This will help address the supply chain disruptions which we have been experiencing," Farnworth said Friday. "There will be temporary shortages, but we are taking this important step to maintain our supply of gasoline."
The orders, effective immediately, limit the amount of fuel available for purchase by the general public in the southwestern part of the province, including the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Sea to Sky corridor, and the Sunshine Coast.
Drivers can purchase a maximum of 30 litres per visit at gas stations across those regions, Farnworth said.
"Emergency and essential vehicles will have unrestricted access to gas, as required, using predominantly commercial cardlock stations," the minister added. "Health-care vehicles will continue to access fuel the way they always do."
The order, which is scheduled to remain in effect until Dec. 1, also includes fines for anyone caught being "abusive, threatening or belligerent" to gas station employees, according to the Ministry of Public Safety.
GAS SUPPLY REDUCED
The intense storm that struck Sunday and continued through Monday forced the shutdown of the Trans Mountain pipeline running from Alberta to Burnaby, which carries roughly 300,000 barrels of oil to the Westridge Marine Terminal per day.
Landslides, flooding and washouts also struck every major route connecting the Lower Mainland to the rest of the province and country.
Farnworth said B.C. has been working with the federal government to bring more fuel into the province "in new ways," including by truck and barge from as far away as California.
"I urge British Columbians to be kind and patient at the gas stations. Everyone is doing their absolute best," the minister added.
The list of essential and emergency vehicles exempt from the rationing order is long, containing everything from fire trucks to grocery delivery vehicles to school buses.
While the gasoline supply remains limited, Farnworth urged drivers to use public transportation as much as possible to help prevent a serious shortage.
The government has also implemented a travel restriction intended to reserve limited space on partially reopened highways for essential purposes, such as transporting food, water and livestock.
As of Friday, non-essential travel is banned on the following routes:
- Highway 99 from the Lillooet River Road junction to the BC Hydro Seton Lake campsite
- Highway 3 from the junction of Highway 5 in Hope to the west entrance to Princeton
- Highway 7 from the junction of Highway 9 in Agassiz to the junction of Highway 1 in Hope
Other uses deemed essential include evacuations for medical reasons and urgent medical treatment, transporting essential personnel, exercising an Aboriginal or treaty right recognized under the Constitution Act, and "returning to a person's own principal residence."
The latter will be welcome news to the many British Columbians and out-of-province visitors who found themselves stranded hundreds of kilometres from home by the storm. A growing number have been crossing into Washington state in recent days to bypass the highway closures, sometimes without proper documents.