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Over 2,000 vehicles stopped at new B.C. road checks over the weekend

30 vehicles were turned around and RCMP say they noticed an increase in travel
The new COVID-19 related order that restricts travel was put in place on May 6, 2021. The BC RCMP hasn't issued any tickets at the road checks yet.

Were you stopped at a road check in B.C. over the weekend?

Over 2,000 drivers were stopped at road checks across B.C. over the weekend and the BC RCMP didn't issue any tickets. However, officers noticed more vehicles on the road and more drivers travelling for non-essential purposes.

BC RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Janelle Shoihet told V.I.A. that, in total, officers checked over 2,069 vehicles over the weekend. However, 30 drivers who were travelling for nonessential purposes voluntarily turned around after police pulled them over. 

"Unless you are essentially refusing to turn back, it's very unlikely that you will be issued a fine," she explained. "We are giving people the opportunity to voluntarily abide by the restrictions."

Shiohet noted that officers noticed an increase in the amount of vehicular traffic coming through the checks. "On this note, we would like to encourage travellers to avoid non-essential travel at this time."

And while the idea is not to be handing out fines, if someone is argumentative with the officer or refuses to turn around, they may be issued a fine, explained Shiohet. 

Last weekend, police checked over 1,400 vehicles and two people who were travelling for non-essential purposes voluntarily turned around after police pulled them over. 

So far, only one person has been issued a ticket for non-essential travel under the Emergency Program Act.  On May 1, a North Vancouver man heading over the Malahat when he was pulled over for speeding and other offences by an RCMP traffic officer. The officer asked the driver why he was travelling and he was told to get back on the ferry.

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth told reporters in a press briefing April 23 that a $575 fine will be issued to people who contravene the new order restricting non-essential travel in the province.

However, Farnworth added that  "at any time, failure to comply with the requirements of a road check may result in a $230 fine."

Dr. Bonnie Henry says people are 'paying attention' to new B.C. travel order

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said May 10 that the fact that no fines have been issued so far shows people are "paying attention" to the new rule. 

The order prohibits non-essential travel between three regional zones in the province, using health authority boundaries. The new zones include the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Coastal Health regions); Vancouver Island (Island Health region); and the Northern/Interior (Interior Health and Northern Health regions).

When stopped at a road check restricting non-essential travel, police only have the authority to request:

  • a driver’s name, address and driver’s license
  • any available documentation regarding driver’s name and address (for example, secondary identification that confirms a driver’s residential address if recently moved)
  • the purpose of the driver’s travel (documentation regarding travel is not required)

Passengers in vehicles will not be checked. 

With files from Louise Dickson / Times Colonist.