Bus riders in Greater Victoria on July 1 will have a choice: open your bag to the prying eyes of a driver or find another form of transportation.
Passengers will be denied a ride if they’re found with liquor — even if it’s unopened.
B.C. Transit unveiled its new policy aimed at curbing the vandalism and excessive drinking that has occurred on previous Canada Days.
However, the approach does not sit well with civil liberties advocates.
“On its face, the notion that you must submit to a search or you will not be allowed to ride on public transit is deeply suspect,” said Micheal Vonn, policy director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
Joanna Morton, spokesperson for B.C. Transit said drivers will not check every single passenger. “You don’t have to get on a bus if you don’t want to show what’s in your bag,” she said. “If we hear a clanking of bottles, then that’s when we’ll be asking you to show what’s inside your bag.”
Last year, Victoria police and Langford RCMP were criticized for conducting intrusive searches on buses headed downtown.
The RCMP Public Complaints Commission determined that the searches went beyond what is permitted by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The findings should have led to an improved enforcement strategy, but the new strategy is even worse, Vonn said. “What we have is the most flagrant attempt at sleight of hand, to suggest that if the public body that is the police can not conduct illegal searches, perhaps transit can.”
Police will still be searching buses if they are requested to by BC Transit, said Sergeant Grant Hamilton of the Victoria Police.
Last year, 15 to 20 buses were taken out of service after the event because of vandalism or to clean up vomit. The damage cost an estimated $100,000 to repair.
• $115 for consuming alcohol in public
• $58 for being intoxicated in public
• $58 for minors in possession of alcohol