RCMP officers are now travelling on a select number of BC Ferries vessels to make sure passengers understand the rules and remain safe on board.
We're on the ferries to help our partners," says Sgt. Rod Pick, Operations NCO of the RCMP's West Coast Marine Services. "
We're all trying to achieve the same thing, which is essentially compliance with the rules onboard and passenger safety."
In March, ferry passengers received permission to stay in their cars on enclosed vehicle decks, as the risks associated with COVID-19 were not clear at the time.
Normally, Transport Canada rules require people to leave their vehicle on enclosed car decks and move to passenger decks because it's safer.
Enclosed car decks are spaces that can be dangerous," says Deborah Marshall, the executive director of public affairs, marketing and customer experience at BC Ferries.
Marshall says accidents, including deaths, have occurred internationally on enclosed desks due to fire and that remaining in a vehicle on an enclosed deck while a ferry is operating is banned globally.
Earlier in the year, passengers fearful of COVID-19 infection felt safer staying in their cars on enclosed decks because they avoided other people.
Since then, we have learned more on how to protect ourselves and travel safely," says Marshall, who noted BC Ferries has also implemented additional measures such as physical distancing and face coverings while onboard vessels.
In September, BC Ferries announced the safety rule was back in effect, and in early November Transport Canada and BC Ferries requested help from the RCMP to ensure passengers follow the safety regulations and leave their vehicles on enclosed decks.
We've heard some people don't want to go to the passenger deck," says Pick. "
But there are measures in place to make people safe and feel comfortable up there and we're all working together to communicate that."
If those efforts fail and passengers still refuse to move from the enclosed deck, Transport Canada would have the authority to issue a ticket.