Gas rationed, travel restricted in parts of B.C. after storm washes out highways

Public Safety Minister’s order will apply for 10 to 11 days

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The British Columbia government is rationing gasoline and restricting travel on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, southwestern parts of the province and the Sunshine Coast after this week’s unprecedented storm severed highways and cut supply lines.

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Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said a limit of 30 litres of fuel per visit to a gas station is an important step to maintaining the supply as the province works to bring in more gas by truck and barge from Alberta, Washington state, Oregon and California.

He said that order would apply for 10 to 11 days and he trusts that people won’t be greedy while keeping critical services in mind as they focus on residents whose communities have been devastated by flooding.

Farnworth said non-essential travel has also been prohibited on sections of highways 99, 3 and 7 starting Friday and passage through restricted areas will be reserved for commercial transport of goods like food, water and medical supplies.

“As roads are repaired and the backlog of essential traffic clears, restrictions on essential travel can and will be eased. We will be releasing the details on enforcement in short order,” he said.

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“But my hope is that everyone understands the need for these restrictions and fully co-operates. In other words, if you don’t need to be travelling right now, don’t. Stay home. And if you can’t do that, carpool or take public transit or work from home.”

Record-breaking rainfall over 48 hours caused major damage to highways and some, like the Coquihalla, will not be rebuilt for several months while limited access has been restored to others with single-lane traffic permitted.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said Highway 3 from Hope to the southern interior of the province had opened for essential travel and Highway 99, which links up with Highway 97 north of Cache Creek, could be open by Sunday depending on whether crews can continue their work.

“I want to emphasize this will not be travel as we’d expect under normal conditions. Crews will be on site with heavy equipment to continue to repair the roads. And until that work is complete, the traffic is going to be slow on these routes.”

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