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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

An Abbotsford man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 3 on Monday, Jan. 18. (Black Press file photo)
Abbotsford man killed in Highway 3 single vehicle crash near Hedley

Fatality was discovered by passing tow truck driver

(Black Press file photo)
Highway 3 cleared, open after vehicle incident

The road was closed for about three hours earlier on Jan. 18

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Interior Health confirms vaccination of priority populations has begun in Salmon Arm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccinations underway in Salmon Arm

Interior Health confirms vaccination of priority populations has begun

This is the location, 3240 Skaha Lake Road, of where BC Housing plans to build a four storey supportive housing project for the homeless and at risk of being homeless. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton mayor and MLA concerned about new BC Housing project

‘Penticton already has its fair share’ of BC Housing projects

Interior Health declared the COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place long term care home over Monday, Jan. 18, 2020. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place care home declared over

‘This has been one of our most challenging outbreaks so far,’ says chief medical health officer

Penticton Bylaw officer Glenn Smith, as well as resident Zak Laycock (not pictured), received the Governor General Award from the Royal Canadian Humane Association to recognize their heroism in a summer 2019 incident. (Contributed)
Bylaw officer and Penticton resident given awards for intervening in sexual assault

Bylaw officer Glenn Smith said he was simply in the right place at the right time

Sunnybank
COVID-19 related deaths at Oliver, West Kelowna and Vernon senior care homes

Sunnybank, Heritage Retirement Residence and Noric House recorded deaths over the weekend

Hillview Elementary students Emma Li and Mina Nadeau were awarded by the Premier’s office for winning the annual holiday card contest. (Karen Rogers photo)
North Okanagan students’ art featured on Premier’s cards

Hillview youth chosen for annual holiday card contest

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Most Read