After hinting at the possibility in late 2016, BC Ferries has officially announced it intends to ban passengers from remaining in their vehicle on any closed deck of a vessel and go smoke-free on all of its vessels and terminals.
The new vehicle deck policy will officially take effect on October 11, 2017 while the no-smoking policy will be enacted on January 22, 2018, which coincides with National Non-Smoking Week.
Lower deck policy stipulated by Transport Canada
The ferry corporation says the new policies will follow Transport Canada’s updated safety regulations to reduce passenger access to closed vehicle decks when the ferry is traveling.
However, on larger vessels with both an upper and lower vehicle deck, passengers can still remain in their vehicles if it is parked on the upper vehicle deck. If there are special circumstances, passengers may make a request at the ticket booth to be placed on the upper vehicle deck, but this is of course dependent on space availability.
Closed vehicle decks are defined as vehicle decks that close at both ends and have limited side openings. The new policy applies to the lower vehicle decks of the following ferries:
- Spirit of British Columbia
- Spirit of Vancouver Island
- Coastal Renaissance
- Coastal Inspiration
- Coastal Celebration
- Queen of Alberni
- Queen of Coquitlam
- Queen of Cowichan
- Queen of New Westminster
- Queen of Oak Bay
- Queen of Surrey
- Queen of Nanaimo
- Salish Orca
- Salish Eagle
- Salish Raven
- Northern Expedition
- Northern Adventure
This new policy will initially be enforced by a “soft approach”, and there may be some exemptions on a case-to-case basis for passengers who have unique challenges or special needs.
No smoking on all property
Last year, the provincial government amended regulations for no smoking buffer zones around any doorway, intake, or open window to any public or workplace from three metres to six metres.
As a result, 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 made the decision to provide a smoke-free environment for the travelling public and our employees on board our ships and at our terminals,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO.
Th new policy, Collins said, “supports the health and wellness of our customers and employees, as it helps control their exposure to second-hand smoke.”
The new smoke-free policy will apply to tobacco, marijuana and e-cigarettes, and is
“expected to reduce the number of complaints BC Ferries receives from customers related to
second-hand smoke,” the company said in a release.
Announcements regarding the new policy will be made on board the vessels
and at the terminals, and signage will be placed on board the vessels and on shore as a reminder of the new policy.