Fears that a sudden change to postal codes in Sechelt could lead to an increase in ICBC insurance rates became fodder for a District of Sechelt April Fool’s Day joke, while a real estate agent tried to dupe residents with a Gibsons trash bridge.
In a release issued the morning of April 1, the district announced a partnership with ICBC and Canada Post following a “successful” change in postal codes in March.
“As a result of the change in postal codes ICBC is now able to increase car insurance rates for all vehicles registered in Sechelt,” claimed the release, which announced the partnership would see revenue split between the insurance corporation and the municipality.
Mayor Darnelda Siegers conspicuously described the hike as “a big win for the municipality,” since the money could be used to revisit building a canal from Trail Bay to Porpoise Bay.
Past District of Sechelt pranks have included the launch of a $1.5-million zip line connecting Trail Bay and Davis Bay, while the canal – once given serious consideration by the district – has also been mined for April Fool’s jokes.
The premise for this year’s gag is based on genuine concerns raised by Sechelt residents, however.
People have voiced their ire about the very real change to postal codes, affecting 7,200 residences in Sechelt and Halfmoon Bay.
Some said they became aware of the change before Canada Post had officially announced it after encountering problems with mail delivery. Others worried the new codes would lump residences in with Lower Mainland addresses, leading to a hike in ICBC insurance premiums.
On Monday, March 29, ICBC confirmed with Coast Reporter a customer’s city or town is used to determine their rates, not postal codes, and that the change wouldn’t affect Sunshine Coast insurance rates.
Residents in Gibsons, while free from that confusion, woke up to another set of startling prospects: the town would soon be connected to Keats Island by a trash bridge.
Real estate agent Tony Browton, known for past April 1 jokes, gave it another whirl with Gibsons-based production company Burnt Boat Media on Thursday after taking a year off from the tradition because of the pandemic.
In the video, a faux reporter says a sustainable “reclamation project” is set to launch this summer that would connect Gibsons to Keats Island via land bridge built with garbage diverted from the Sechelt dump. The project would add 18 months of lifespan to the landfill, which – no joke – is expected to reach capacity by 2025.
He also recycled another real idea: “I’m hoping by 2030 there’ll be a permanent link using my reclaimed infrastructure technique,” he said.
“Basically it’s just dumping garbage in the ocean and putting pavement on top, so I don’t foresee any real issues.”
So far Browton hasn’t received any “hate response.”
“I think maybe this being the fourth one that I’ve done, people are kind of on to me,” he said.
In 2017 he released a video about plans for an advertising screen in Gibsons Harbour, which caused blowback from irritated residents who believed the fake hype and called the town in anger.
This year, said Browton, the district’s insurance rate gag may prove more timely. “They’ll probably suck a lot more people in with their one than I will with mine,” he said, adding: “It’s all a good laugh. It’s good to take people’s mind off the pandemic and the lockdowns.”