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Summer reprieve for DD services

New rules will come into effect in October, rather than June

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa’s designated driver services, facing new rules going into effect next month, will have a few more months to get ready.

And according to one industry expert, councillors are focusing on the wrong issue entirely.

A group of several different DD services were at the meeting of the corporate services committee to reiterate their concerns for a final time regarding the city’s DD regulations passed last year.

Sharon Carswell, owner of DD4U, told the committee that if the implementation date of June 1 is not extended, she would be forced to pull her business from the city.

“We just won’t service Oshawa at this point in time,” she said. “We will have no option but to withdraw our services from the Oshawa area.”

The new regulations, passed by council in June 2015, require DD services to have their drivers obtain a criminal information report with vulnerable sector screening, have a driver’s abstract, a G license, a medical clearance letter and be 25 years of age or older.

Carswell says many of the new regulations are “cumbersome” and the cost of obtaining these documents can be a deterrent for some drivers who may only work part-time.

“Enough is enough – my drivers are not going to do it,” she says.

And while councillors were previously snagged up in the question of  insurance, some of those concerns seemed to have been alleviated by insurance industry veteran Dave Hare, of Petley-Hare, whose online brokerage has been offering coverage for DD services through a pilot project.

He says that Oshawa’s current bylaw, while includes some good regulations, needs to be changed.

“If introduced in its current form, it will be impossible for designated driver services to comply,” he says.

Hare also noted that DD services should not be councillors main concern, but instead should be ready to deal with the ride-sharing businesses such as Uber and Lyft.

“If I was sitting in your shoes right here, I would be much more concerned about the ride sharing economy,” he said, noting these businesses, operating free of many regulations, are strangling the taxi industry.

Currently, Toronto is attempting to implement a new set of bylaws to regulate ride sharing companies which were put in place earlier this month.

Noting the new information, councillors agreed unanimously to delay implementing the new bylaw, instead ordering staff to continue to liaise with the DD services and insurance companies to further tidy up the bylaw.

The implementation has been delayed until the end of October, a decision Jerry Conlin, the director of municipal law enforcement and licensing services, agreed with, noting it is “worthwhile to have that conversation with the insurance industry to clarify some points.”

A report is scheduled to come back to council next month prior to the summer recess.