Maple Ridge council mum on party buses
A Maple Ridge mother who has been lobbying the province to regulate party buses is disappointed by the lack of action from local politicians.
Julie Raymond chastised the District of Maple Ridge in an email, which noted Geoff Meggs, a Vancouver councillor, showed more interest in her efforts than anyone from the municipality she lives in.
Vancouver city council passed a motion Wednesday to urge others to pressure the province for more rules.
“They know there have been multiple incidences with youth in our community on these buses,” said Raymond, whose daughter Shannon died on July 26, 2008 after taking two ecstasy pills and drinking alcohol during a birthday party for a friend on a party bus.
She was 16 years old.
“Shannon’s death wasn’t an isolated incident. I find it sad that someone from Vancouver stepped up and we don’t even live there,” Raymond said.
Party buses are popular with suburban teens, complete with plush seats, strobe lighting, mirrored ball, dancing pole and loud music.
The bus Shannon was on was rented by a parent, but there was a 19-year-old on board to supervise the underage teens.
Shannon’s death was the first in a spate of tragedies involving party buses in Metro Vancouver, an industry that’s since expanded to 4,000 operators, according to Meggs.
In February 2013, 16-year-old Ernest Azoadam died on a party bus in Surrey.
In November, a 17-year-old girl from Abbotsford was dumped at a truck stop and beaten up after a trip on a party bus.
Even the taxi and limousine industry is asking the province to tighten party buss rules. Right now, anyone with a general authorization licence can drive a party bus, which is similar to a charter bus. But taxi drivers face tests, a criminal record check and paper work to acquire a special operator’s licence.
Julie Raymond also called out Surrey politicians for their lack of action.
“Shame on Diane Watts. There are teens in Surrey who use these frequently,” she added.
“The laws are there, they just need to be enforced. Consequences need to be delivered swiftly to those who are breaking the law. It certainly isn’t happening now.”
She is also disappointed with the response from the province.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin has promised to take Raymond’s concern to the mayors’ table at Metro Vancouver.
“It is under the provincial purview, but directly affects our kids. We are dealing with the losses,” he added.
“If I can add my voice to it, I will. A voice of 10 or 20 communities will have more of an impact than one or two.”
Meanwhile, Coun. Cheryl Ashlie has also committed to pushing for change and has shared her concerns with MLA Doug Bing, who she works for as a constituency assistant.
The Ministry of Transportation did not return a request for comment before deadline.