(Photo by Aaron Pateman)

Police will now be present on board some BC Ferries vessels to ensure all regulations are being followed.

According to Cpl. Chris Manseau, BC Ferries and Transport Canada requested assistance from BC RCMP West Coast Marine Services to help educate passengers on safety rules aboard vessels.

In a phone interview with Victoria Buzz, Manseau said the RCMP’s primary focus will be to make sure people get out of their vehicles on enclosed decks, in accordance with Transport Canada rules.

This rule does not apply to open (including partially enclosed) vehicle decks where passengers can remain in their vehicles on ferries.

Since BC Ferries announced that all passengers must wear face coverings on board vessels, the company has encountered issues with people not wanting to follow that rule.

Just last week, there were two incidents in which ferry schedules were delayed due to anti-maskers causing a commotion.

When asked whether police will enforce the requirement to wear masks on vessels, Manseau said they will work to assist BC Ferries in any way necessary.

“Because we’re going to be on the ferries, should there be any issues of unrelated matters that require police presence, we’ll be there to work on those as well,” said Manseau.

“If there are going to be people who don’t wear masks and are going to cause a scene, of course we’ll attend to assist.”

Their primary goal, however, is to make sure passengers leave their vehicles when parked in enclosed decks.

Back in March, travellers were given a special allowance by Transport Canada to stay in their vehicles, despite parking in enclosed decks due to COVID-19.

That allowance was reversed at the end of September, and the federal agency states that “remaining in a vehicle on an enclosed vehicle deck while a ferry is operating is not safe for passengers and has been banned internationally”.

The RCMP, BC Ferries, and Transport Canada will be conducting on board ‘ferry walkabouts’ to make sure people are following those rules.

If necessary, Transport Canada can issue an administrative monetary penalty to non-compliant passengers.

“I’m hopeful that having our presence there will help BC ferries workers and those people who thought maybe they could stay on deck change their minds,” said Manseau.

“I guess we’ll have to follow up in a couple of days and see how well that goes.”