Lower Mainland residents continue to take ICBC road tests in Victoria, despite travel restrictions
VICTORIA -- People from the Lower Mainland are still coming to Vancouver Island for ICBC driver’s tests, even though current provincial health orders strongly discourage people from travelling outside their communities for non-essential purposes.
MoveUP is the union that represents ICBC drivers and vice-president Annette Toth is hearing rising concerns from her drivers about the number of people coming for driving tests not from the community.
“There is definitely a concern that this is a potential to spread a virus,” said Toth. “This isn’t about their protection, this is a community health issue and is about keeping our community safe.”
Over just a few days, Toth said the numbers were highest on Friday, with 29 per cent of examinees at the Dunedin Street location coming from the Lower Mainland.
On Saturday, 15 per cent of the people taking a test at the McKenzie Avenue location were from the Lower Mainland, according to her drivers.
ICBC is asking people to only take their test in their community.
“This is more important now, given the strong recommendation from the provincial health officer to limit travel between communities to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said the company.
It added that there is “absolutely no benefit” for someone who lives and works in the Lower Mainland to take their test in Victoria.
Toth said her drivers are concerned about the number of people coming to the island and have voiced their issues with ICBC.
ICBC says a random, one-week sample from November showed 27 examinees in Victoria – seven per cent of the 388 people taking road tests – had come from the Lower Mainland. The insurance corporation would not say whether the sample was taken before or after B.C.’s new restrictions were put in place.
All of British Columbia was put under new public health orders on Nov. 19 that restricted social gatherings and asked people to refrain from travelling outside of local health regions until at least Dec. 7.
“We understand that members of the public have concerns about people travelling to their communities to take road tests,” said the company. “We’ve recently looked into this issue and found that these concerns, while understandable given the heightened anxiety over COVID-19, are largely unfounded.”
All of ICBC’s offices remain open, and the average wait time for road testing in Victoria and the Lower Mainland is “nearly” the same at about 40 days, according to ICBC.
“As an essential service, we’ll continue to provide the same services we have been, while keeping the health and safety of our customers and employees the top priority,” said the company.
Toth said the people doing the road tests should not be allowed to book in the first place if they do not live on Vancouver Island.
“Let’s put a moratorium on this for a few weeks to help slow things down. Your road rest can be done in your community” she said. “We are asking for there to be some parametres to make it safer for people.”
B.C.'s top doctor has said it is her expectation that everyone in B.C. will limit their travel as much as possible unless it is essential.
"This includes travel within the province and travel to other parts of Canada,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry when she announced the new orders last month.
Toth said she has contacted the solicitor general and public health and is asking them to intervene and block people from booking tests if they don’t live in the area.
“Enough is enough,” said Toth.