North Shore mayors ask for policy change to clear minor accidents faster
Published Thursday, September 21, 2017 4:00PM PDT
Mayors on the North Shore are asking for changes to the Motor Vehicle Act they say would reduce congestion by allowing minor accidents on the Lions Gate and Second Narrows bridges to be cleared faster.
“It’s a very big problem. One small accident causes chaos for hours,” said North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto. “The bridges are at capacity. Something has to be done.”
Under current regulations, only the RCMP can authorize the removal of damaged or stalled vehicles blocking a provincial highway.
Mounties who attend the scene of an crash where damages are estimated to be more than $1,000 are required by law to conduct a time-consuming investigation and fill out a lengthy accident form—a process that can stall traffic for hours.
In a new report by the Union of BC Municipalities, the mayors requested that the province amend the Motor Vehicle Act to allow maintenance contractors and tow companies to authorize the removal of damaged vehicles and to the raise the damage limit to $10,000 before police must become involved.
“You get a scratch on the side of a car and it’s $1,000 to repair, so we need to change that to a significantly higher number,” Mussatto said, adding that the congestion caused by what he calls outdated regulations is being felt far beyond the North Shore.
“It’s impacting a lot of people who are commuting from Surrey or Washington State that are going through to the ferries or that are going through to Squamish and Whistler,” he said.
The municipalities are also asking that the province allow local fire departments to assist police in order to get traffic moving as fast as possible.
“If there’s no injures, if the vehicles are drivable, let’s get them off,” Mussatto said. “If the vehicles have minor damages and they get a tow with no injuries, let’s just get them off the bridge.”
According to the report, the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge sees an average of 12 accidents a month. There were 803 collisions on the Lions Gate from 2011 to 2015—an average of nearly 17 crashes a month, according to statistics from Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.
Although the resolution was brought forward by mayors on the North Shore, the changes would apply to the entire province.
“I’ve talked to other mayors and councillors and they’re saying it’s a problem in their communities, so I think it will make a difference,” he said. “It’s one thing that will add to help making it a little bit better for people.”
The B.C. government, meanwhile, said it is open to changes that help reduce congestion in the province as long as public safety isn’t compromised.
“I’m looking forward to talking to the mayors and those who are putting forward this resolution to find out what they’re thinking and how they would like to see it work,” Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said Thursday. “Whatever we do, we’ve got to make sure that public safety is put first.”
Mussatto and other mayors intend to argue for the move at a UBCM convention in Vancouver next week.
“I think this has a very good chance of passing,” the mayor said. “It’s not just here, it’s everywhere in the Lower Mainland and other bigger cities in B.C., so I hope the provincial government is listening on this one and we can help enact some change to make it a little better for our daily commuters.”
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Shannon Paterson