Sometimes the obvious is treated as the less than obvious. One such example is that people from all over B.C. are coming to Vancouver Island in order to get a timely road test appointment. This in the time of a pandemic! ICBC should act immediately to end the practice of road test appointments being offered to those not from the community in which the test is taking place.
Why are student drivers from Surrey, Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Abbotsford and other areas showing up on Vancouver Island for a road test? Isn’t this a violation of Dr. Bonnie Henry’s edict to stay in one’s defined locale? Minister of Health Adrian Dix must act immediately to stop this practice. In other words, those people from Vancouver seeking a road test must book a driving test where they live, not hundreds of kilometres away.
Candidates for such driving tests are arriving via the B.C. Ferries terminals or the airport. Driving schools from all over Vancouver Island are receiving frantic calls from would-be interlopers. They want to rent a car for a driving test that is available to them at an earlier date than in their hometown. At a time when the virus is at its height, we are allowing this ridiculously dangerous travel to endanger fellow travellers and our local population.
Are we asleep at the switch? Many people have cancelled their Christmas travel plans. Dix and Henry have done a marvelous job to date, in keeping us all informed about the dangers of COVID-19. It is time for them to protect their own employee group. Driving examiners have been doing a great job of masking up, using goggles and seat cover wraps with the addition of disinfected gloves and the supply of a new mask for every candidate taking a driving test. They only allow a certain number of people to enter their ICBC testing station offices at a time. This is a great example of not only being careful during the pandemic but also offering an exemplary service amid some very trying times. Is it not long past time that all driving tests that require the candidates to travel between jurisdictions be cancelled?
My friends just cancelled their trip to Prince George on the advice of our provincial officials. She and her husband wanted to be with her grandkids for Christmas, but thought better of it, given the present situation. There are many people all over B.C. making the same kind of sacrifice. My own Christmas season celebration will be confined to people in my bubble.
ICBC should be subjected to the same blunt message Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth issued to those who refuse to wear a mask. He did not pull any punches when he criticized those putting others and themselves at risk. It is about time he picked up the phone and asked some difficult questions of ICBC management. Why are they encouraging new driving candidates to travel far and wide to get a driving test appointment a few weeks earlier than in their own jurisdiction?
We are doing our part to fight this virus. Travel is now discouraged, unless for exceptional circumstances. Please, Mike, Adrian, and Bonnie, make the difficult call, and stay safe.
Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former V.P. of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.