Passengers 19 years and older sailing on the Spirit of Vancouver Island, Spirit of British Columbia and the Coastal Celebration will be able to purchase one alcoholic beverage with a meal during a trial starting in late October. (Black Press Media file photo)

BC Ferries’ new alcohol trial under scrutiny

MADD Canada recommended drink limit

BC Ferries’ new alcohol trial will be closely monitored.

The one-year-trial, set to start sometime in late October, will allow passengers 19 years and older to purchase one alcoholic drink with their meal on three vessels serving the Tsawassen-Swartz Bay route – one less than first proposed earlier this year.

Robert Duffus, communications manager with the B.C. ministry of the attorney general, said in an emailed statement that the one-drink limit reflects “extensive consultations with stakeholders, including experts on drug and alcohol public policy.”

He added BC Ferries would “monitor the results of the pilot and any impacts on public safety, and may request a review of the one-drink limit” at a later date.

RELATED: BC Ferries to sell beer and wine on Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route

Tracy Crawford, Mothers Against Drunk Driving regional manager for western Canada, said BC Ferries reached out MADD Canada and other stakeholders.

“It’s crucial to put guidelines in place to promote and ensure passenger safety,” Crawford said. “MADD Canada is pleased to see that BC Ferries are putting these measures in place. Confining alcohol consumption to one designated area and having a [one] drink limit per paying customer are strong policies.”

She later confirmed that her organization pushed for the new limit. “We did recommend to limit the amount of drinks someone can purchase,” she said.

Crawford said strong staff training requirements and ongoing enforcement of these service guidelines will be very important.

“We have encouraged BC Ferries to provide additional extensive training to all ferry staff on how to identify someone who may be intoxicated, either aboard the ferry or as they are entering their vehicles,” Crawford said. “Staff should be able to identify someone who may be impaired and know what they can do and who they can call to prevent that person from getting into their vehicle impaired.”

Overall, Crawford said it is “crucial” that any change in alcohol service aboard BC Ferries include strong regulations and guidelines to prevent impaired driving.

Crashes involving alcohol, drugs or both are the leading criminal cause of death in Canada, she said.

While BC Ferries already offers beer and wine for sale on northern routes serving Port Hardy, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii and ports on the central coast, the trial marks the first time beer and wine will be available on sailings linking Vancouver and Victoria.


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