MLA George Heyman pushes to protect young people with party bus safety measures

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VICTORIA – New Democrat MLA George Heyman tabled legislation to protect young people by making improvements to the safety of the party bus industry in B.C.

“Premier Clark has been reluctant to take the kind of action to protect kids that we’ve seen in other jurisdictions, even though B.C. has witnessed more party bus-related incidents and fatalities,” said Heyman. “It’s time to admit that relying on minimal regulation has failed repeatedly with tragic results.”

After the tragic death of 23 year old Chelsea Lynn Mist James in January, Heyman renewed his call for stronger legislation. Ms. James fell out the door of a moving party bus in downtown Vancouver.

“The provisions in my bill might have made a difference for Ms. James, and could make a difference in the future.” said Heyman. “I want Minister Stone and Premier Clark to assure British Columbians that they’ll act quickly before another tragedy happens.”

First tabled in 2014, the Safeguarding Young Peoples’ Future Act would create new protections.

Alcohol consumption in vehicles is illegal in BC, but it is still implied in advertising by some party bus companies and was openly depicted until recently. Instead of just relying on warnings, Heyman’s bill would penalize such advertising.

Heyman’s bill would also require safety monitors. “The driver simply cannot both operate the vehicle safely and simultaneously monitor activities or emergencies on board the moving vehicle.”

“The state of inaction or partial action has failed to produce meaningful change in this industry,” said Julie Raymond, mother of 16-year-old Shannon who died in a party-bus related incident eight years ago. Julie’s sister Danielle said, “We hope that the government will stop clinging to this position and will have the courage to embrace this bill. Safety should be a non-partisan issue.”

The bill would also require safety training for operators, would require that party bus passengers receive instructions and sign acknowledgements about legal and safety requirements, and would require “safe drop-off” provisions to end the practice of dumping sick or distressed passengers.