Minor accidents on B.C. bridges can be cleared faster, say North Shore mayors

Minor fender-benders on the Lions Gate Bridge shouldn't take hours to clear.

A resolution at next week's Union of B.C. Municipalities conference asks for changes to the Motor Vehicle Act

The Ironworkers Memorial bridge connects North Vancouver and Vancouver. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Minor fender benders on the Lions Gate Bridge shouldn't take hours to clear, say two municipalities that want the provincial government to make changes to the Motor Vehicle Act, so highway accident cleaning goes quicker.

"Responders first on the scene do operate within provincial legislation constraints. The challenge we have is perhaps some of the legislation is a little out of date," said District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton.

His municipality, along with the City of North Vancouver, have submitted a resolution to next week's Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Vancouver. If passed, the UBCM will ask the provincial government to amend the Motor Vehicle Act in three ways, as it relates to highway accidents.

  • Allow maintenance contractors to authorize removal of vehicles in minor accidents or stalled vehicles.
  • Increase the damage threshold required for an on-scene police investigation from $1,000 to $10,000.
  • Allow fire rescue services to complete on-scene police investigations. 

Currently, "only police are authorized to issue consent to remove damaged or stalled vehicles blocking a provincial highway," according to the motion.  

The motion has not previously been considered by the UBCM. 

Congestion #1 issue on North Shore

Highway closures and delays due to accidents happen throughout B.C., but the North Vancouver municipalities have two bridges and a connecting highway that divide neighbourhoods, frustrating local commuters. 

"Any delay, even by minutes, causes significant backup," said City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto.

"We feel we needed to take it to the provincial level, so we can let them know it has a very high priority for us."

 Walton believes reducing the backlogs caused from accidents would have a number of positive impacts.

"Time is certainly a concern but also, economically, there's a number of commercial vehicles often caught in this. People are being paid," he said.  

"[But] what's really important we think from a safety point of view is "get the accident off the bridge as soon as possible." People are frustrated and they're backed up and that's often when other accidents occur."