Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)

Students from COVID hotspots travel to Victoria for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

The vice-president of the union representing ICBC road test examiners is calling for the province to put a hard ban on people from the mainland coming to Victoria for driving tests.

“We’re concerned about our members’ safety, but we’re really actually concerned about our community,” said Annette Toth, who works out of Victoria. “We see this as a public health issue. It isn’t just about coming to Victoria for a road test, they’re coming on the ferry, maybe dining out.”

In response to a query from Black Press Media, Toth polled the two driver exam offices operating in Victoria from Tuesday to Saturday (Dec. 1 to Dec. 5). On Friday, one location reported a whopping 29 per cent of the day’s tests had been taken by Lower Mainland residents. The average throughout the week sat just shy of 13 per cent.

Already, 15 per cent of Saturday’s tests have been booked for Lower Mainland residents. That number could increase later in the day when Toth said more mainlanders traditionally take tests here.

In an earlier request for figures, ICBC compiled addresses for people taking Class 5 road tests in the first week of November, before the latest public health orders aimed at keeping people home. It found that of 388 drivers tested, 27 or about seven per cent, gave Lower Mainland addresses.

READ ALSO: Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

To address the backlog caused when COVID-19 shut down testing earlier this year, the corporation added about 100 examiners and opened up 10 new locations, including one at the ICBC claims centre on Dunedin Street in Victoria. The statement said that since road tests have resumed, the average wait time is about the same on the Lower Mainland as in Victoria, roughly 40 days.

“We strongly encourage customers to test where they live,” ICBC stated.

From examiners’ and the union’s perspective, today’s numbers show people still aren’t getting the message.

“For us this isn’t a numbers game, we feel that one [person coming over] is too many. We really believe this is a public health issue,” Toth said, adding the ministry responsible needs to mandate that people “stop travelling if it’s not essential for getting a job.”

ICBC takes stringent safety measures to keep staff and customers safe in its offices and in vehicles, it said in the statement. Anyone taking a road test is asked a series of health screening questions and provided with a mandatory medical-grade mask to wear during the test. Examiners wear personal protective equipment, which can include a combination of masks, shields, goggles, gloves and the use of disposable seat covers.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 outbreak hits first Greater Victoria hospital

The issue of Lower Mainland residents coming to Victoria to take their road tests is not new, said Toth, a statement echoed by Kate Wells, owner/operator of DriveWise BC, a driving instruction school.

Her company frequently receives calls from mainland residents wishing to use her company’s vehicles to “warm up” for taking their road test in Victoria. But she made a policy some weeks ago to not accept clients from outside Greater Victoria.

“It’s a concern for us for sure,” Wells said. “We need to stay safe for our customers.”

The current public health travel advisory from the province asks residents to “stay local and avoid non-essential travel within B.C.”


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusDriving

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

Just Posted

Colwood Fire Rescue is reminding the public to only burn dry, seasoned wood in fireplaces after heavy smoke filled the intersection of Sooke Road and Acacia Drive when a homeowner tried burning a plastic item on Sunday, Jan. 24. (Emily Jessop photo)
Colwood homeowner burns plastic in fireplace, causes emergency response

Colwood Fire Rescue says burn dry, seasoned wood in fireplaces only

A rolled-over car was spotted in a ditch along Sooke Road near the border of Langford on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 24. (Black Press Media photo)
Car ends up in ditch along Sooke Road Sunday morning

Single vehicle spotted rolled-over just after 10 a.m. on Jan. 24

Oak Bay High Grade 10 students Oliver Wakely and Alex Joiner with the new scoreboard to soon be installed on the grass turf. Fundraising from the Oak Bay Barbarians rugby alumni and Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Oak Bay High alumni buy new scoreboard

Scoreboard to be installed on grass field

Steve Smith’s image of two sibling adolescent grizzly bears playfighting in the Chilko River in the B.C. Interior earned him best of show at the prestigious Lion’s Gate Celebration of Nature club competition for 2020-21. (Photo by Steve Smith)
Victoria Camera Club captures top spot in prestigious nature and wildlife competition

Saanich Peninsula photographers part of award-winning team

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

Most Read