Skip to content

New van taking BC Service centre offerings on the road

The van will offer most of the 300 services available in an office

Maple Ridge was the kickoff for a new mobile van which will be providing government services to people across the province.

The Mobile Outreach Service BC van will offer a majority of the 300 services available at a Service BC office – like ID for newcomers to the province, MSP enquiries, drivers licence renewal, or BCID cards – to residents who are unable to visit an office in-person. This could be because they live in remote or rural communities or have mobility issues.

It will also be used to support people in emergency situations at evacuation centres like those impacted by wildfires or floods.

Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services, called the news exciting.

“We know everyone needs to access government services regardless of where they live,” said Beare in the parking lot of the Maple Ridge Business Centre, with the new mobile services van behind her.

“People who live in rural and remote areas of the province will no longer need to travel to one of the 65 Service BC offices to access government services. We can come to you,” said the minister.

Beare explained the van will bring government services to communities across the province, including Indigenous people in remote communities, communities who are in need, and will help welcome new Canadians.

The minister also noted that not everyone has easy access to the internet or devices, the “state-of-the-art” van will help those people access the online services they require. And, she added, privacy is a priority, and the van will have the same security measures as any BC Service office – with secure connectivity provided through LTE and satellite-based networks.

The van is also equipped with two-way radio, GPS satellite-enabled phone and seasonal emergency supplies.

READ ALSO: Some ‘holdover’ 2023 B.C. wildfires still smouldering, showing smoke

It can serve up to two clients at a time and has been designed so conversations can remain private.

In emergency situations those affected will be able to get ID, or access to applications for disaster relief funding.

“To have that at your fingertips, you know, a van arriving in 24 hours, if needed, it’s amazing,” said Beare.

So far there is only the one van servicing the province. However, Beare said, she would love to see more.

“I’m working on that,” she said.

The van has already been tested in various BC communities, and Minister Beare said, it has been an “overwhelming success.”

ALSO: B.C.’s snowpack is 39% below normal levels

One woman in Bella Bella, the minister noted, handed the staff a handwritten note thanking them for saving her from having to make an expensive trip into the city with a toddler. Another woman expressed gratitude after getting her first photo identification in 30 years.

Vicki Kipps, outgoing executive director of Community Services and the Cythera Transition House, said what she loves about the mobile outreach van is the focus on accessibility, in addition to the ability to reducing barriers.

“Perhaps it’s reducing the need for transportation, or child minding, or just the overwhelming ‘What the heck do I do first’, in my path to employment, recovery, wellness, even something as simple as a photo ID – which is almost a necessary first step,” said Kipps, adding that she thinks the van will make it equitable across communities in the province to access government services.

Funding for customizing the van and project management was provided through the Strategic Investment Fund, established as part of the province’s telecommunications deal with Telus.

Service BC will be providing a schedule for the van, posted to their website, so that residents will know when it is coming to their community.

The van will be travelling next to the Ukrainian Catholic Church in New Westminster to offer services to new Canadians.

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
Read more

Secondary Title