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Licensing regime for driving schools delayed

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The implementation of a system that would restrict where newbie drivers can get their training on Oshawa streets has been delayed.

A proposed licensing system for driving schools and instructors came before council this summer, with a final version set to come back this month. However, staff are asking for more time.

The motion from staff noted that while most of the background research has been completed to develop such a licensing system, a lot of the heavy lifting remained when it comes down to sorting out the associated costs and fees to be introduced.

“Staff recognize the importance of this matter to council and staff are continuing to work on this item in order to present an appropriate licensing by-law and fees by-law,” the motion states.

“We’re very, very close,” says Bev Hendry, the commissioner of corporate services, noting that staff are in the final stages of calculations and justifications for the associated fees.

The system in question will require all driving schools who use Oshawa streets to be registered, including all their instructors. The system would require all cars to have mechanical safety certificates, display a city identification plate on the bumper and would also facilitate the creation of basic operating standards for these companies.

The system would also create a restricted area for these driving schools with a north boundary of Adelaide Avenue East/West, a southern boundary of Bloor Street East/West, an eastern boundary at Riston Road and the western boundary at Thornton Road.

For the city, it’s estimated to cost $27,600 for the first year. Currently, all driving schools are also licensed by the province. According to a previous city report, there are approximately 58 ministry approved driving schools in Durham Region.

The move for licensing system comes after a series of complaints that have been ongoing for years. In June, councillors heard from resident Harvey Lee who explained that Warren Avenue where he lives is “inundated” with driving school cars, many of them from Pickering, Markham, and Toronto, who are all teaching their prospective drivers. The proximity of Lee’s Warren Avenue home to the Oshawa Drive Test Centre at the Midtown Mall, which uses the street in one of its routes when licensing drivers, makes it a hot spot for trainers hoping to give their students a heads up glance at what may be coming later on.

The delay did not sit well with members of council, who feared it may cause the associated costs to be excluded from upcoming budget talks, and cause the implementation to be delayed even further.

“This was the mayor’s initiative and as the chair of the committee I want to make sure it is managed appropriately and we don’t miss an opportunity,” said Councillor Amy McQuaid-England.

Councillor Gail Bates also noted that she was disappointed the final system wasn’t coming forward.

The delay has opened up old wounds in the city’s corporate services department, which has consistently noted that as more work is added to its to-do list, things are being pushed to the back burner.

“We can’t continue to add new licenses without looking at additional resources,” Hendry said.

For that reason, the motion was sent back to staff to come return with further costing information at the Dec. 4 committee meeting in order to ensure it can be slotted into the 2018 budget.

“I would have concerns if we weren’t able to implement this sometime in the 2018 year,” said Mayor John Henry. “If there’s additional funds we need to at least be able to forecast a placeholder into the 2018 budget.”