Inside a party bus (Wikimedia Commons)

Party bus regulations overdue, says B.C. mom who’s advocated for changes

Julie Raymond has fought for changes for a decade

A conversation about party bus regulations still ends with tears for Julie Raymond, a decade after her daughter’s death.

The Maple Ridge mother has lobbied for changes for 10 years, and she had been told this week by government officials that big ones were coming. Friday the province announced the requirement of a chaperone on board if there are minors present, fines that have been quadrupled, and other stiffer regulations.

“This is what Danielle (her daughter) and I have been working for ever since Shannon’s death,” she said Friday afternoon. “It’s much needed.”

Shannon was just 16 when she died of a drug overdose. She had been on a party bus in July 2008, and taken a lethal combination of the club drug ecstasy and alcohol. She was found dead at a Maple Ridge home at 6 a.m. on July 26.

Since then, Raymond has pressed the provincial government for more enforcement of party buses, which she maintains were effectively operating outside the law, such as allowing minors to consume alcohol.

READ MORE: Party bus licensing tightened up

While the new fines will be implemented immediately, the other regulations are set to be in force next year.

“For a long time, the party bus industry has been ignored, leaving glaring gaps in safety,” said transportation minister Claire Trevena.

“Had those been in place prior to Shannon’s death, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” said Raymond. “My daughter would still be alive.”

She said this week’s changes might well have saved others, if they had come earlier.

In the intervening decade between Shannon’s death and the new regulations, there have been more high-profile party bus deaths – Ernest Azoadam, 16, collapsed on a party bus in Surrey in 2013, but the BC Coroners Service ruled out drugs or alcohol in his death. Chelsea Lynn Mist died after falling out of a party bus in Vancouver in 2016.

The ministry reminded the public it is against the law to consume alcohol inside a vehicle.

“The RCMP and local police will be conducting focused enforcement during the holiday season and will continue to ticket people breaking the law.”

Raymond said she hopes the new rules go far enough.

“I truly hope so. I don’t want any other family to go through what we went through. I wish we didn’t have this conversation. I wish my daughter was still here.”

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