Everything you need to know about BC's new gas restrictions

Nov 20 2021, 12:32 am

On Friday afternoon, the provincial government announced a new order to restrict gas for non-essential drivers.

The measure was shared by Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, who explained the need to prioritize fuel for non-essential vehicles amid a fuel shortage caused by a pipeline shutdown. The minister is urging people who are able to work from home to do so, and take public transit instead of driving whenever they can.

“These steps will keep commercial traffic moving, stabilize our supply chains, and make sure everyone gets home safely,” he said in a live update.

An emergency order was also introduced to restrict recreational travel throughout BC.

Here’s everything you need to know about BC’s new gas rules.

How will this order work?

The order will limit the amount of gas that non-essential drivers will have access to. While the general public will be able to freely access retail gas stations, they will be limited to 30 litres per visit.

Who does it apply to?

The order specifically applies to non-essential vehicles, including those for the general public.

Essential vehicles will have unrestricted access to gas as needed, mainly through commercial trucking gas stations which use a card lock.

How will the order be enforced?

The emergency order will essentially be regulated through the honour system, with the belief that the majority of people will stick to their allotted amount of fuel.

“The majority of people will do the right thing,” said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. “If we are greedy we will fail.”

What vehicles are considered essential under this order?

According to the provincial government, the following vehicles are considered essential:

  • Emergency service vehicles (fire, police, ambulance and healthcare including urgent medical treatment)
  • Public transportation vehicles
  • Commercial transport trucks that carry critical goods and services (food and beverage, healthcare, safety)
  • Refrigerated trucks
  • Potable water delivery and wastewater service vehicles
  • Grocery delivery vehicles
  • Road repair, maintenance and recovery vehicles, and tow trucks
  • Military vehicles
  • Critical infrastructure, construction and repair vehicles
  • Homecare workers
  • Municipal service vehicles
  • First Nations government service vehicles
  • BC Ferries, Coast Guard, tugboats, marine emergency, pilot boats
  • Canada Post and other couriers and package delivery vehicles
  • Vehicles for the provision of critical government services
  • Airport authority vehicles and air travel
  • Waste disposal and recycling vehicles
  • BC Hydro, Fortis, and other heavy-duty and light-duty utility vehicles
  • Telecommunication repair and installation vehicles
  • Fuel delivery trucks and boats
  • School buses
  • Taxis
  • Agricultural and farm-use vehicles, including vehicles supporting flood response
  • Veterinarians supporting flood response
  • Inter-city buses

How long is it in effect?

The order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until December 1, 2021.

Is the order in effect province-wide?

The new rules will not affect the entire province. It specifically applies to fuel suppliers in the Lower Mainland-to-Hope region, the Sea to Sky region, Sunshine Coast, the Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island — what’s referred to as Southwestern BC.

Why is it being implemented?

Due to weather-related impacts on the Trans Mountain pipeline and damage to the roadways, there is a reduced, albeit steady supply of gasoline. The measure is being used to ensure that commercial traffic vehicles have adequate access to fuel and to help stabilize supply chains.

The Trans Mountain pipeline was shut down on Sunday, November 14, and a team is working on restart plans.  BC believes the best case scenario is that the pipeline will restart mid to late next week.

How will gas stations be affected?

The provincial government says it will work with gas retailers and distributors to implement this order and ensure that people do not exceed their allotted amount per trip. Specifically, gas retailers will be “required to ensure remaining gasoline reserves last until December 1.

Additionally, retail gas stations and wholesale distributors will be prohibited from price gouging. People will also be prohibited from buying gas for the purpose of resale.

Does this apply to natural gas and heating?

The order will not apply to natural gas or heating oil used in homes.

Can people be fined for breaking this order?

The provincial government says that “anyone who is abusive, threatening, or belligerent to gas station workers can be subject to a fine under the order.”

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