By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The city is set to become one of the first in North America to regulate the designated driving industry.
A debate which has been going on for several years inside city hall is set to come to a close at the last meeting of council before summer recess on June 29 when new regulations around licensing requirements, fares and the conveyance of passengers are passed down on the DD industry.
The discussion has seen several active voices coming forward to represent the industry that is most known for driving impaired people home in their own vehicles after a night out.
At a special meeting of the corporate services committee on June 19, the industry had yet another chance to push their case on the latest round of draft regulations.
During the first round of talks, several stakeholders took issue with the fact the city was looking to place requirements on drivers to obtain criminal record checks, vulnerable sector screening reports and a medical clearance letter, along with proof of a full driver’s license.
Glen Willchuk, the general manager of Keys to Us Designated Drivers, said these checks place added costs on drivers who already don’t make a high wage.
“We really feel by imposing a fee on the drivers…it is going to make it extremely difficult for us to get drivers to work for us in this industry,” he said.
Keys to Us has a 19-year history in Durham Region and Willchuk hoped council would allow the businesses to screen their own drivers, something many of them do already.
“It makes it our responsibility,” he says.
The number of passengers and drop off points has also been at issue from the beginnings.
In the city’s most recent draft, DD services would only be allowed to take customers to one location. This follows the elimination of a regulation from the previous draft that would have seen DD services only be able to transport the vehicle’s owner.
Luke Bazley, with Driverseat DD service, urged council to remove the single drop off point from the bylaw.
Councillor Rick Kerr agreed, saying it was unrealistic for friends or couples out for a night to be able to get home if they are only allowed to stop at one spot. He said council needed to remember what the purpose of the regulations was and the most effective method for getting to that end.
“This is all about removing drunk drivers from the road…and keeping them off the road,” he said.
Also at issue is the requirement for DD services to obtain commercial general liability (CGL) insurance.
However, several DD business owners at the meeting claimed such a policy does not exist for their industry, and including it in the bylaw would make it impossible for DD services to operate.
Jennifer Young and Dale Gibbons of W.O. Insurance Brokers confirmed that no product yet exists to insure the type of operation DD services run.
“This is just something they have not created at this time,” Gibbons said.
However, he says the CGL is the only, and best, option.
“That’s only a term that’s really being utilized and I can’t say 100 per cent if that’s what the final conclusion is going to be,” he said.
Several councillors agreed keeping the insurance aspect as part of the bylaw was crucial and that if something better came along later, it could be changed in the bylaw.
“This is imperative that we really get this in place and understand that this is going to be an evolutionary aspect,” said Councillor Dan Carter.
After some debate, councillors struck down the staff recommendation for a single drop off point and allowed that DD services be able to transport to more than one residence.
The regulations will come before council one last time at its regular meeting on June 29.