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

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

File photo
Surrey to borrow $150 million for three major recreation projects

That’s for a sports complex in the city centre, a sports and ice complex in Cloverdale and a community centre in Newton

Tim Baillie, the “Supreme Commander” of Toque Tuesday events in Surrey, at Surrey Civic Plaza in 2018. (File photo: Bala Yogesh)
Ball hockey scrubbed, Surrey’s ‘Toque Tuesday’ turns to drive-thru collection to help homeless

‘Clean out your closets and stop by from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.,’ urges the event’s ‘Supreme Commander’

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Langley activist Dorscie Paterson celebrated her 108th birthday on Monday, Jan. 25 at the Cedar Hill long term care facility. Because of the pandemic, she remained inside, able to see, but not shake hands with visitors. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Celebrating a 108th birthday without physical contact

Pandemic required Langley woman to stay behind a window

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
5 big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19

‘What should be done to reduce the harms the next time a virus arises?’ Disease control experts answer

A Vancouver Police Department patch is seen on an officer’s uniform as she makes a phone call. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver man calls 911 to report his own stabbing, leading to arrest: police

Officers located the suspect a few blocks away. He was holding a bloody knife.

Most Read