BC officials announced new travel restrictions Friday with the intent of keeping drivers away from the damaged highway system while assessment and repairs are underway.
Drivers should only be on the road to transport important goods such as food, water, fuel and medical or agricultural supplies, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said during a Friday news conference.
Checkpoints will be in place on the roads to enforce the restrictions. The executive order enters into force immediately.
The executive order applies to the hardest hit highways, including Highway 99, Highway 7 and Highway 3. Not all of them are open yet, but these areas will be restricted when they do:
- Highway 99: from the intersection of Highway 99 and Lillooet River Road to access the BC Hydro Seton Lake Campsite in Lillooet. Only passenger cars and commercial vehicles up to 14,500 kg will be allowed.
- Highway 3: from the intersection of Highway 5 and Highway 3 in Hope to the western entrance to Princeton from Highway 3.
- Highway 7: from the junction of Highway 7 and Highway 9 in Agassiz to the junction of Highway 7 and Highway 1 in Hope.
Neither Trans Canada nor Coquihalla will reopen for some time because large sections were washed away by mudslides. They are not included in the order.
Highway 3 reopened only for key vehicles Friday, and Highway 99 remains closed for the time being.
The Route Highway 7 to Highway 3 via Hope is the first connection between the lower mainland and the interior that opened since the routes were cut off in a record-breaking storm over the weekend.
What qualifies as essential travel?
Here is a complete list of reasons that qualify as significant travel and are excluded from the order:
- Commercial transport of goods
- Transport of food, water, fuel, petrol, personal hygiene, sanitation and cleaning products or health and pharmaceutical supplies
- Transport of livestock, agricultural or shellfish products / supplies
- Response to emergencies, including search and rescue
- Acute medical treatment
- Highway repair or maintenance
- Transport of significant personnel
- Return to a person’s own main residence
- Indigenous people exercising treaty rights
Officials also announced restrictions on buying gasoline because the Trans Mountain pipeline, which has been closed for several days, has blocked fuel supplies in southern BC.
Officials said they are working to bring in additional fuel from Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California.
But for the next 10 to 12 days, people in the southern BC. limited to only filling 30 liters at the filling station. The rules do not apply to key drivers, including paramedics and trucks using card lock stations.
This is the second time this year that British Colombians are facing travel restrictions that prevent them from driving around the province. Last winter, officials banned travel between health regions to reduce COVID-19 infection.