The province is lifting fuel restrictions for the southwest region of B.C. as gas supplies have recovered after flooding in mid-November.
The restrictions, which limited drivers to 30 litres per gas station visit, will be lifted as of end of day Tuesday (Dec. 14).
“We’re confident in the supply chain when it comes to fuel,” said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, adding that the Trans Mountain pipeline coming online, along with supplies coming by barge and rail, have restored the province’s supplies.
Farnworth cautioned that there are months of recovery to go and extended the provincial state of emergency for another two weeks.
Despite recent snowfall, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said that work was continuing to fix the province’s shattered highway network, including repairs at 20 separate damaged sites along the Coquihalla.
“About 130 kilometres of the corridor sustained damage to that highway,”he said. “The level of destruction from the first storm on Nov. 14 was difficult to comprehend for all of us and seeing it up close was unfathomable.”
The transportation minister said that on Friday, crews were able to establish bridge access at the northern and southern entry points to the 130-kilometre damaged area, speeding up the movement of construction equipment.
Fleming said that the Coquihalla could reopen to commercial traffic earlier than the previously announced date of mid-January and that Highway 3 could open to non-essential traffic at some point this holiday season, though he stressed that there were no guarantees.
The minister warned that there would be “zero tolerance” for reckless driving or speeding, by either commercial trucks or the general public. There have been 116 tickets handed out on Highway 3, the lone corridor connecting the south coast to the interior, in December so far, and the company whose semi-truck was caught on camera driving erratically along Highway 5A has had its licence to operate in B.C. revoked.
Fleming said that once the Coquihalla is able to reopen to commercial traffic, expected to happen by the end of the holiday season, that will take commercial truckers off of Highway 3.
Fleming said that although the province does expect an influx of holiday traffic along Highway 3 once it opens, many British Columbians will also heed public health advice and stay close to home instead.