B.C. still stalling on party bus rules

Transportation minister though says enforcement of existing regs needed

Transportation minister doesn't want any new rules on party buses.

As graduation season approaches, a Maple Ridge family is renewing its call for the province to regulate the party bus industry.

Julie Raymond and her daughter Danielle were in Victoria on Wednesday for Question Period because the New Democrat opposition has taken on their cause.

Vancouver-Fairview NDP MLA George Heyman asked Transportation Minister Todd Stone to commit to regulating party buses before another senseless tragedy occurs.

“We are on the cusp of graduations, a time when teenagers celebrate a transition to their future,” said Heyman.

“While party buses are a popular choice for these celebrations, even some of those in the industry say that operators too often place youth in vulnerable positions by failing to provide protection and by allowing them easy access to alcohol and drugs.”

But Minister Stone believes new regulations are not the answer, that operators just have to follow the rules.

He replied the province is working with police and other stakeholder, such as ICBC, on a campaign to coincide with grad season.

“We’re all working together to ensure that all British Columbians know what the law is and that the operators understand clearly that their No. 1 obligation is to ensure the safe transport of their passengers,” Stone replied during Question Period.

His response disappointing to the Raymonds, who are calling on the province to ban anyone under 19 years from party buses, or to make it mandatory for companies to have chaperones for anyone under the legal drinking age.

“It’s to protect and put harm reduction in place so that no other mother has to stand up to talk about the death of their son or daughter,” said Julie 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.

The Raymonds believe enforcement is not the answer. Police can’t pull over vehicles unless they have grounds to.

“Enforcement hasn’t worked so far,” said Raymond. “The party bus companies are aware of what the legal requirements are. They know people can’t consume alcohol, but they continue to conduct themselves with disregard for the law.”

Raymond is buoyed by the support she has received from Vancouver politicians Geoff Meggs and MLA Heyman, but disappointed that two local MLAs haven’t taken on their cause and have yet to meet them in person.

But Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows B.C. Liberal MLA Doug Bing assures the Raymonds that both he and MLA Marc Dalton are pressing the issue.

He has met with Minister Stone and last week had a meeting with the Ministry of Justice.

The ministry met with the 38 companies that run these buses and they were read “the riot act,” said Bing.

California recently passed a law that requires chartered party buses carrying minors to have a chaperone to ensure no underage drinking happens onboard. The chaperone will be held liable if any does occur. Bus companies could also be hit with fines up to $2,000 for their first two offenses and see their operating licenses revoked for a third strike.

Washington State is considering similar legislation.

Bing says the issue is more complex in B.C.

“The legal system is a little bit different between the United States and Canada.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Free film for Ridge residents to mark Plastic Free July

The Story of Plastic can be viewed for free on any device

Seniors tennis society of Maple Ridge looking for new members

Club accepts anyone over the age of 55 into their ranks

Songs Strings and Steps presents outdoor concert series in Abbotsford

No more than 50 people permitted for each performance

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Mission spray park closed after children suffer swollen eyes, burns

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner brings ‘objectivity’ to the job

Vancouver lawyer Reece Harding is Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner, also a first for B.C.

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

19 times on 19th birthday: Langley teen goes from crutches to conquering Abby Grind

Kaden Van Buren started at midnight on Saturday. By 3 p.m. he had completed the trek 19 times.

Professional basketball in Canada begins return to action with COVID-19 testing

Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Bandits, six other CEBL teams arrive in Ontario for Summer Series

Most Read