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‘People who are honest don’t get on the ferry’: BC Ferries customers call for resident ID checks

Jacquie and Mark Steele says they were placed in a line-up at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal that didn't move for six hours.
Jacquie and Mark Steele says they were placed in a line-up at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal that didn't move for six hours. Jacquie Steele

A Maple Ridge couple is calling on BC Ferries to ID passengers after they spent six hours in a ferry lineup that didn’t move.

Mark and Jacquie Steele said they arrived at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal Tuesday afternoon on their way to the Sunshine Coast.

Click to play video 'BC Ferries’ passengers stranded at sea for hours after mechanical breakdown' BC Ferries’ passengers stranded at sea for hours after mechanical breakdown
BC Ferries’ passengers stranded at sea for hours after mechanical breakdown

They say they weren’t going to the region for pleasure — they were bringing Mark’s 88-year-old father a new wheelchair.

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When they got to the terminal, BC Ferries staff asked the Steeles if they were residents of the Sunshine Coast, and they said no.

Read more: Coronavirus: BC Ferries passengers must now have face coverings when on board

Mark says they were placed in a lineup that didn’t move for six hours.

“If the residents keep coming, they just keep driving on past you,” he said.

Click to play video 'BC Ferries passengers stranded at sea for hours' BC Ferries passengers stranded at sea for hours
BC Ferries passengers stranded at sea for hours

BC Ferries says residents and essential workers receive priority boarding because of the provincial state of emergency.

But they don’t ID passengers to ensure they are telling the truth.

Mark says people are taking advantage of the honour system.

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Read more: BC Ferries to boost service levels as B.C. reopens from COVID-19

“So the people who are honest don’t get on the ferry, and the people who lie get on the ferry.”

He says hundreds of people got on three ferries before their lineup even moved.

“There were out-of-country licence plates there and there were also Alberta licence plates there.”

Read more: B.C. is preparing to enter Phase 3 of its COVID-19 restart plan. What does that mean?

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall admits because more people are travelling now that the province is in Phase 3 of its restart plan, giving priority to residents has caused issues.

“It wasn’t an issue in the beginning of the pandemic, because our traffic had completely fallen off. Now that traffic is coming back and the province has lifted ‘non-essential travel’ it is becoming an issue on many routes.”

BC Ferries suggests customers make reservations if they want to ensure priority on a specific sailing.