BC News: Officials extend gas distribution order, state of emergency by 2 weeks
The continued effects of a series of severe storms on BC’s South Coast prompted the government to extend the petrol allocation order and state of emergency for another two weeks.
Deputy Prime Minister Mike Farnworth announced the expansion on Monday, as communities grapple with fresh flooding and new motorway closures caused by the latest atmospheric river running to the southwest of conscious.
“The critical weather we’ve seen continues to create challenges,” said Farnworth. “The fuel economy measures are working and I want to thank the British Columbians for their patience, but we need to stay on track for another two weeks.”
The allocation order is currently scheduled to remain in place through December 14, allowing more time to get the Trans Mountain pipeline back up and running.
That pipeline, which normally carries about 300,000 barrels of oil from Alberta to Burnaby a day, has been shut down since the historic storm hit two weeks ago.
Under the order, drivers of non-essential vehicles are only allowed to fill up 30 liters of gas per stop at stations across the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Gulf Islands.
The measure is designed to ensure commercial and emergency vehicles can continue to operate throughout the province’s storm response, and amid ongoing supply chain issues.
When the order was initially announced on November 19, it sent many drivers rushing to the pumps, creating long formations that resulted in some stations running out of fuel.
Officials said they were working to stem shortages by using “new ways” to get gasoline into the province, including by truck and barge from as far away as California.
The province-wide state of emergency will also remain in place through December 14. Farnworth says that will spur “the government’s response and recovery from the widespread damage caused by the flooding, and asked us to take all necessary steps in the coming days.”
BC is bracing for its third atmospheric river in less than a week to arrive on Tuesday, bringing more heavy rain to communities still flooded from previous storms.
Environment and Climate Change Canada is forecasting another 100 mm of rain possible in parts of the Lower Continent, and parts of Vancouver Island possibly up to 200 mm.
“This is not just a rain event, not just a snowmelt event, but a consecutive storm event,” said meteorologist Armel Castellan.
“Even if the third storm isn’t as bad as it might be in the pattern leading up to today, it’s going to be problematic because they’re getting too close to runoff and saturated soil.”
Rainfall from Saturday to Sunday morning caused trees, rocks and debris to fall on some highways in the Lower Mainland, although the impact wasn’t as bad as the November 14 storm, which damaged or destroyed cancel estimated 200 points along the road.
Expressways 3 and 99, which were closed in advance on Saturday as a precaution, have reopened, although sections of each are restricted to essential travel.
Highway 1, which suffered a landslide over the weekend, remains closed from Abbotsford to Chilliwack and Popkum to Hope.
“With more heavy rain forecast, we will continue to monitor all of our motorways in the region,” Transport Secretary Rob Fleming said on Monday. “Unless absolutely necessary, I encourage you to stay off the roads during this next storm.”
Officials have urged anyone who decides to travel during severe storms to have food, water, warm clothing, blankets and an emergency kit ready.