Thousands sign petition to restrict ferries to Vancouver Island residents only

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VICTORIA –
An online petition asking that ferries be reserved for residents of Vancouver Island is gaining ground.

Over 36,000 people signed the online petition launched three weeks ago by Bronwen Blunt.

“Residents of Vancouver Island are concerned for their safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic and we still see tourists from other provinces and the United States driving on our roads here,” Blunt said in the petition.

Signatures began to accumulate quickly after the long weekend in April, when many people turned to social media to express their frustration with visitors to Vancouver Island.

“People should take this situation very seriously by isolating themselves and distancing themselves from society, but that does not happen and we still have tourists and non-residents coming to the island”, a- she declared.

Several people expressed their frustration by saying, “We are not a vacation destination during a pandemic.”

“Most of us have done the hard work of staying at home,” said Tami Blazer on the petition.

“It was like a kick in the teeth yesterday to see mainland-filled ferries arriving on Vancouver Island for the weekend.”

BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall told CTV News Vancouver Island that the number of travelers has decreased this weekend compared to usual long weekend averages.

“We have certainly seen a huge reduction in the number of travelers this weekend,” she said.

Marshall said BC Ferries adheres to new Transport Canada regulations – which include filling ships to a maximum capacity of only 50% and keeping passengers inside their vehicles to help with physical remoteness – but society does not have the capacity to prevent people from traveling.

Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed concerns about tourists and visitors to Vancouver Island at a conference on Saturday.

“This is not the time to travel, even if it is in a summer house or a chalet,” she said.

Henry said she told BC Ferries about the number of travelers to Vancouver Island.

“On the one hand, ferries are only allowed to carry 50% of the capacity and we know that the schedule has been reduced considerably,” she said. “I am encouraged that most people are doing what we have to do.”

Blunt hopes to collect 50,000 signatures for his petition.

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