It's a long weekend B.C. — here are some tips to help you get the most out of it

Travellers stand in line to book Westjet flights at the Vancouver International Airport on Friday, May 19, 2023, hours after a labour dispute between pilots and the company was resolved. (Zahra Premji/CBC News - image credit)
Travellers stand in line to book Westjet flights at the Vancouver International Airport on Friday, May 19, 2023, hours after a labour dispute between pilots and the company was resolved. (Zahra Premji/CBC News - image credit)

Above seasonal temperatures are setting B.C. up for a warm and sunny long weekend, and that has implications for travel hubs and traffic.

Along the South Coast, temperatures are expected to climb to the mid-20s over the weekend, some six degrees warmer than average.

The sunny and summer-like weather is setting up a weekend with a lot of people out to enjoy it, despite vast parts of the province remaining under a special air quality statement due to wildfire smoke.

Here is what you need to know:


B.C. Ferries said peak demand for sailings had already begun Thursday and will continue until Tuesday.

In response, the ferry provider said it is adding 95 extra sailings to accommodate more than 430,000 passengers and 170,000 vehicles expected to travel over the May long weekend.

That includes 66 extra sailings between Vancouver (Tsawwassen) - Victoria (Swartz Bay), 18 extra sailings between Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) - Nanaimo (Departure Bay) and 11 extra sailings between Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) - Sunshine Coast (Langdale).

In a statement, interim vice president Dean Dobrinsky said the corporation still faces staffing challenges, and there is a potential for cancellations.

"I want to thank all our employees who are accepting overtime to help us deliver extra sailings to support customers through this busy weekend," he said.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

B.C. Ferries said it is continuing to hire and train staff "necessary for the summer travel season," which includes more than 125 captains, engineers, or chief officers.

It warned that there are limited bookings on some sailings departing from Horseshoe Bay for customers who want to travel with their vehicles, meaning there will be sailing waits and also long lineups at other terminals.

B.C. Ferries advises travellers with reservations this weekend to arrive at terminals 45 to 60 minutes ahead of their scheduled departure, with walk-on passengers arriving 45 minutes beforehand.


DriveBC and the RCMP's highway patrol are also anticipating busy roads around the province.

In a statement, the province asked travellers along the Malahat (Highway 1) to avoid peak travel times "for a safer and more relaxed journey," as significant traffic congestion is expected on the corridor this weekend due to sunny weather and the first long weekend of spring.

Residents of Victoria have been told to expect traffic disruptions along a stretch of Douglas Street during Monday's Victoria Day Parade.


Officials with Vancouver International Airport welcomed news late Thursday night that WestJet pilots had reached a tentative agreement with its employer over a labour dispute.

Some flights with WestJet had been cancelled due to the job action. YVR said Friday that some flights may still be affected as WestJet operations return to full capacity.

It's asking travellers to check with airlines for flight status before heading to the airport.

Where to park

Port Moody police were advising people on Friday about parking limitations at popular swimming spots such as Sasamat Lake.

Last summer, a new parking reservation was put in place for the area around Buntzen Lake, a popular outdoor recreation site in Anmore, B.C., to reduce traffic congestion due to high demand.

Three provincial parks – Joffre Lakes Park, Garibaldi Park and Golden Ears Park – continue to require free day passes for visitors.

They were implemented to try and reduce crowding on trails and parking lots as well as lessen the impact on the areas' natural environments and wildlife.

Fire safety

Starting noon Thursday, large open fires were banned across B.C. as unseasonal heat, wildfire smoke, and out-of-control wildfires continue to affect residents.

Under the province's fire ban designations, Category 2 and 3 open burning will be prohibited across the province starting at 12 p.m. on May 18.

Campfires, confined to 0.5 metres in height and 0.5 metres in diameter, are still allowed in some regions, although not in the Prince George Fire Centre — which covers much of the northern half of the province where all of B.C.'s most concerning fires are burning.

Bans in specific regions can be found here.

On Friday, the province issued an advisory about the danger of human-caused wildfires.

Since April 1, 2023, more than 220 wildfires have burned more than 135,000 hectares, largely within the Prince George Fire Centre.

"Of these fires, 85 per cent were human-caused and were preventable," said the statement. "Wildfire prevention is a shared responsibility."

Anyone found in contravention of an open-burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000, or, if convicted in court, fined as much as $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail.

If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.