Those who like to sleep in their car or smoke on ferries will soon be in for a rude awakening.
BC Ferries is following through on promises to restrict passengers from remaining on closed car decks during sailings – and to ban smoking on all of its vessels and terminals.
The company announced in December that it was required to implement Transport Canada regulations that would ban passengers from remaining on contained lower decks due to safety concerns.
The policy will go into effect on Oct. 11, meaning anyone who drives onto a lower, enclosed car deck after that date will be forced to leave while a sailing is underway.
Customers will still be permitted to remain in their vehicles on upper decks.
“The regulations relate to safety, and the safety of our passengers and employees is a core value for BC Ferries,” said Vice-President of Fleet Operations Jamie Marshall in a statement. “Last year we carried 21-million passengers safely to their destinations by keeping safety top-of-mind in every operational decision we made.”
The closed deck ban will apply to 18 vessels, including those that operate on busy routes including Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen-Duke Point and Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay.
The question of enforcement is still up in the air. BC Ferries said it will first adopt a “soft approach” by asking customers in violation of the policy to move to a passenger deck.
Customers who have unique challenges or special needs can request to be placed on the upper deck at the ticket booth, the company said.
The access restriction will be lifted when passengers are instructed to return to their vehicles before docking.
Smoking ban to go into effect January 2018
In another major change, BC Ferries said it will ban smoking on all of its vessels and terminals as of Jan. 22, 2018.
The blanket ban is due to the province expanding no-smoking buffer zones around doorways and air intakes from three metres to six metres, the company said.
“Due to the physical space available from doors on the outer decks of BC Ferries’ large vessels and on the vehicle decks of smaller vessels, the new regulation means all vessels will need to become smoke-free environments,” BC Ferries said in a statement.
It’s also choosing to make all BC Ferries-owned properties, including terminals, smoke-free to limit staff and passengers’ exposure to second-hand smoke.
The ban will apply not just to tobacco products, but also marijuana and e-cigarettes such as “vape pens.”
The change means those stuck waiting for a ferry won’t be able to smoke in the lineup or on the vessel and could wait for hours to get their nicotine fix.
The company said it will introduce signage and make announcements about the new policy on vessels and at terminals to give smokers time to adjust to the change.
It said it will also provide smoking cessation programs and nicotine replacement therapies for employees.
Just like the enclosed car deck ban, BC Ferries said it will take a “soft approach” to enforcement.
The major policy change coincides with National Non-Smoking Week, which runs from Jan 21-28.