Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)

Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

The vice-president of the union representing ICBC road test examiners is calling for the province to put a hard ban on people from the mainland coming to Victoria for driving tests.

“We’re concerned about our members’ safety, but we’re really actually concerned about our community,” said Annette Toth, who works out of Victoria. “We see this as a public health issue. It isn’t just about coming to Victoria for a road test, they’re coming on the ferry, maybe dining out.”

In response to a query from Black Press Media, Toth polled the two driver exam offices operating in Victoria from Tuesday to Saturday (Dec. 1 to Dec. 5). On Friday, one location reported a whopping 29 per cent of the day’s tests had been taken by Lower Mainland residents. The average throughout the week sat just shy of 13 per cent.

Already, 15 per cent of Saturday’s tests have been booked for Lower Mainland residents. That number could increase later in the day when Toth said more mainlanders traditionally take tests here.

In an earlier request for figures, ICBC compiled addresses for people taking Class 5 road tests in the first week of November, before the latest public health orders aimed at keeping people home. It found that of 388 drivers tested, 27 or about seven per cent, gave Lower Mainland addresses.

READ ALSO: Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

To address the backlog caused when COVID-19 shut down testing earlier this year, the corporation added about 100 examiners and opened up 10 new locations, including one at the ICBC claims centre on Dunedin Street in Victoria. The statement said that since road tests have resumed, the average wait time is about the same on the Lower Mainland as in Victoria, roughly 40 days.

“We strongly encourage customers to test where they live,” ICBC stated.

From examiners’ and the union’s perspective, today’s numbers show people still aren’t getting the message.

“For us this isn’t a numbers game, we feel that one [person coming over] is too many. We really believe this is a public health issue,” Toth said, adding the ministry responsible needs to mandate that people “stop travelling if it’s not essential for getting a job.”

ICBC takes stringent safety measures to keep staff and customers safe in its offices and in vehicles, it said in the statement. Anyone taking a road test is asked a series of health screening questions and provided with a mandatory medical-grade mask to wear during the test. Examiners wear personal protective equipment, which can include a combination of masks, shields, goggles, gloves and the use of disposable seat covers.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 outbreak hits first Greater Victoria hospital

The issue of Lower Mainland residents coming to Victoria to take their road tests is not new, said Toth, a statement echoed by Kate Wells, owner/operator of DriveWise BC, a driving instruction school.

Her company frequently receives calls from mainland residents wishing to use her company’s vehicles to “warm up” for taking their road test in Victoria. But she made a policy some weeks ago to not accept clients from outside Greater Victoria.

“It’s a concern for us for sure,” Wells said. “We need to stay safe for our customers.”

The current public health travel advisory from the province asks residents to “stay local and avoid non-essential travel within B.C.”


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusDriving

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

MP Richard Cannings
NDP chooses Cannings again for next federal election

If there is a snap election, the long-time MP for South Okanagan West Kootenay will be ready

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Snow covers Main Street in downtown Penticton Monday morning, Jan. 25, 2021.
First snowfall of 2021

Chances of light snow all week

Crystal Johns used her lunch break to film her audition video for the Vancouver Canucks.
VIDEO: Former Vees anthem singer wants to bring her voice to the Canucks

Crystal Johns made her audition tape during a lunch break

The Village of Keremeos is preparing to open up the village to in-province travellers as the province enters Phase 3 of its reopening plan. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
Electric vehicle use continues to rise in Keremeos

August saw 147 vehicles for the peak of the year

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Auldin Maxwell stacks the 693rd block on the top of record-breaking Jenga tower on Nov. 29. (Submitted)
Salmon Arm boy rests world-record attempt on single Jenga brick

Auldin Maxwell, 12, is now officially a Guinness world record holder.

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL
Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail

Metis Nation of B.C. President Clara Morin Dal Col poses in this undated handout photo. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Metis Nation of B.C. *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Metis Nation of B.C. suspends president, citing ‘breach’ of policies, procedures

Vice-president Lissa Smith is stepping in to fill the position on an acting basis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

Former governors general are entitled to a pension and also get a regular income paid to them for the rest of their lives

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News file)
Two Kelowna flights flagged for COVID-19 onboard

The flights were on Jan. 14 and 18

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

A Dodge Ram pickup similar to this one was involved in a hit-and-run in Lake Country on Saturday, Jan. 16. (Crime Stoppers photo)
Stolen truck involved in Okanagan hit-and-run

Incident happened on Highway 97 in Lake Country just before 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16

Most Read