Travel for work not considered 'essential' for many in B.C., ministry says of highway order
Several major routes in British Columbia are under provincial travel restrictions for the time being in an effort to minimize the impact on the supply chain.
While some roadways are still closed 10 days after the major storm that caused flooding and mudslides across southern B.,C., sections of Highways 1, 3, 7 and 99 are open.
However, several spots are meant to be used only for essential travel, and those caught breaking the rules at checkpoints may be fined as much as $230.
The restrictions are temporary, provincial officials have said, asking drivers to be patient and look for alternate routes or take transit and taxis.
The province has issued a list of what it considers essential travel, but noticeably absent to those living in affected areas is whether going to work is allowed.
The short answer is probably not. Even if there is no other available route.
CTV News reached out to Emergency Management B.C. for clarity specifically on going to work, and was told by a spokesperson that only essential travel as outlined in the travel order is permitted.
Unless a driver's job is among those listed in Appendix 1 of that order, they're not allowed to use the highways with restricted access.
The appendix is as follows:
- commercial transporting for goods and supplies;
- transporting essential goods and supplies;
- transporting livestock, agricultural or seafood products or related supplies;
- travelling by agricultural producers, veterinarians and support personnel to provide
- care for animals;
- responding to emergencies or to critical incidents, including incidents that involve search and rescue operations;
- evacuating for medical reasons or transporting for urgent medical treatment'
- highway and infrastructure repairing, maintenance and operation and related activities;
- transporting essential personnel, including health-care workers and emergency responders;
- returning to a person's own principal residence;
- exercising an Aboriginal or treaty right as recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982;
- media members travelling through a highway segment for purposes of reporting on the flooding and landslides.
The list has since been amended to include transportation by school bus, charter bus or public transit, but this applies only to the Highway 7 corridor between Hope and Mission.
The rules are also different on Highway 1. The stretch between Highway 11 and Yale Road can only be used for agricultural purposes, responding to emergencies, exercising an Aboriginal treaty right and highway maintenance and repair.
On Highway 99, the list above applies only if a vehicle is less than 14,500 kilograms, or has been authorized by the Ministry of Transportation.
In short, if a driver's job doesn't involve the essential purposes listed above, they are not permitted on the highways restricted under provincial travel rules.
A spokesperson for Emergency Management B.C. said the measures will be eased when the situation improves.
"We're asking employers to be flexible right now as the priority is to keep commercial traffic moving, stabilize our supply chains, and make sure everyone gets home safely," the ministry said.