BC’s provincial government has announced that it will begin restricting gas for drivers.
The announcement was made on Friday afternoon by Emergency Management BC and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
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“Due to weather-related impacts to the Trans Mountain pipeline and damage to the roadways, there is a reduced but steady supply of gasoline,” Farnworth says.
The order begins effective immediately and will remain in place until December 1, 2021. It will apply to fuel suppliers in the Lower Mainland to the Hope region, the Sea to Sky region, Sunshine Coast, Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island.
Non-essential vehicles, including the general public, will be limited to 30 litres per trip at retail gas stations. Essential vehicles, however, will have unrestricted access to fuel — these vehicles will use “predominantly commercial trucking gas stations,” which use card locks.
This order does not impact natural gas or heating oil used to heat homes. The provincial government adds that “anyone who is abusive, threatening or belligerent to gas station workers can be subject to a fine under the order.”
The decision comes just days after the government declared a provincial state of emergency over the devastating floods and mudslides occurring around BC.
During that time, Farnworth said that emergency measures could be used to prohibit non-essential travel, hoarding, and price-gouging.
The Trans Mountain pipeline remains shut down as parts of BC deal with extreme weather, fuelling concerns over gas shortages.
The pipeline, a critical piece of BC infrastructure, was shut down on Sunday, November 14, and a team is working on restart plans.
The company says an initial assessment of the affected area was done Tuesday by air.
“The plans for restarting require continued assessments, including geotechnical evaluations of slope stability and on-the-ground analysis to determine if there is work required to repair or re-establish protective cover where the pipe has been exposed due to flooding.”
The statement goes on to say, “Trans Mountain is in regular contact with its shippers and is working to mitigate potential impacts of the pipeline shut down on British Columbians.”
Panic-buying becoming a growing concern
Panic-buying and hoarding appear to be increasing and taking place in areas of the Lower Mainland that aren’t affected by the floods and mudslides.
Initially affecting central BC and the Fraser Valley, hoarding now seems to be taking place in parts of Metro Vancouver.
For example, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West spoke out earlier this week, urging residents to stay calm.
“This is one of those moments where we can demonstrate what type of people we are and what type of community we are,” he told Daily Hive in an interview. “Now is a time to be thinking of others, not just ourselves. There is no reason for hoarding and panic-buying.”
Reports of empty store shelves emerged earlier in the week as flooding and washouts cut certain BC communities off from the Lower Mainland.
“The grocery stores have been clear that they will be able to maintain their supplies if people maintain their normal purchasing,” said Mayor West.