The Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (ICBC) spent $1 each on 100,000 reflective pedestrian armbands awarding the contract in April, a month before Attorney General David Eby said the provincial insurer’s financial picture was unknown.
A request for proposals (RFP) for the reflectors was published February 5 with the competition closing nine days later. The request said delivery was to be over 12 months.
ICBC said in the RFP that the armbands are distributed through October for fall traffic safety campaigns.
“Distracted driving and failing to yield the right-of-way are the top contributing factors for drivers in crashes with pedestrians,” the RFP said. “Even when drivers proceed with caution, it's hard to see pedestrians at this time of year when visibility is poor.
“Because of this, ICBC conducts an annual pedestrian safety campaign with advertising and social media. And with the help of community policing volunteers and TransLink, we distribute the coveted safety reflectors throughout the month of October.”
Eby said in April that ICBC was facing a billion-dollar loss on its investments, but the following month said a decline in claims due to the pandemic could yield a surplus.
On August 13, Finance Minister Carole James said the loss was $298 million.
The supplier chosen for the armbands was Salmon Arm’s C Me Pedestrian Reflectors.
For the fiscal year ending March 2019, ICBC spent $141,157, corporation financial records show.
Spokesman Brent Shearer said ICBC has been distributing reflectors to pedestrians during safety campaigns for many years. The recent purchase is for 2020-21, he said.
“We undertook a competitive process to ensure we got the most affordable rate on these reflectors – in fact, we spent less than $1 per reflector,” he said. “Pedestrian safety is a serious issue - in B.C., an average of 1,200 pedestrians are injured in crashes between October and January, when the weather changes, daylight hours decrease and pedestrians become more vulnerable.”
The armbands are part of ICBC’s work to prevent such injuries, he said.
Shearer said while ICBC’s 2019/20 year-end results were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the corporation was in a positive net income position of $311 million at the end of our first quarter.
Despite pandemic uncertainty, he said, ICBC remains optimistic.