Council to look at regulating driver training schools

August 19, 2015   ·   0 Comments

After a number of complaints to members of Council and on social media, Orangeville Council has voted to look into the possibility of regulating driver training schools.

The complaints being received concern schools from outside town – mainly in Caledon – that have been using Orangeville for their students’ lessons and tests.

It’s not a surprise to most that the issue has come to council, with the large number of cars from out-of-town schools being seen around town on a regular basis, particularly those using Zina and Elizabeth streets throughout the day for the students to practise parallel parking and u-turns.

The issue was first brought before Council during its public question period a few months ago, when a local resident asked what Council intended to do about the issue.

Town staff recommended to Council at its last meeting that Council accept their report and direct them to draft a Driver Training School bylaw to be considered.

However, Councillor Sylvia Bradley felt that the issue was not one Council should be worrying about at this time.

“I’m not sure this is a big enough problem for us to deal with here,” she said. “I’m not going to support a bylaw on this; I think we should be encouraging [these schools] to come here.”

But Vern Douglas, Director of Building and Bylaw Enforcement, explained that based on studies of other places that have implemented such bylaws, they are successful.

“In our talks with Drive Test Ontario and the Ontario Driver School Organization, they’ve suggested that bylaws in municipalities with these facilities do work,” he said. “We are getting more of these schools in town, and it’s a way to ensure driving schools have proper insurance and are abiding by the appropriate guidelines.”

He added that many of the schools are based in north Peel, and their number is continuing to grow. This meant the use of Orangeville’s roads and the local Drive Test Centre for people from out of town was also going to increase.

“It’s very easy to sit here and say we shouldn’t be bringing in a bylaw to control as long as it’s not happening in your neighbourhood,” said Councillor Don Kidd, who has said in the past that he has received complaints and noticed the problem. “If you’ve been on Elizabeth Street or Zina Street, they often [block] the whole street, and it causes problems.”

Oftentimes, the new student drivers are nervous when attempting to parallel park or perform a u-turn, forgetting to signal, or not allowing other drivers to pass while before they try to readjust their park, holding up traffic. Complaints on Facebook have also included new drivers not signalling, running stop signs, and at one point backing into a vehicle before the instructor allowed them to drive off.

“The way things are right now, it is incredibly difficult to regulate or even monitor what they are doing,” said Mayor Jeremy Williams. “We can’t monitor things like them using a particular street all the time. I would support a bylaw – they are using Orangeville for their business, but their income is all going to support another municipality. We are not winning in any way here.”

He added that he had spoken to several driving schools about the issue and much to his surprise, many of them saw it as a positive move going forward.

“One thing I would hope, however, is that we do not pass the bylaw until one is drafted and local businesses as well as the police have provided input,” he said. “I support the recommendation the way it is, and I think we have had a fair conversation on it.”

The motion carried, and Town staff will begin to draft a bylaw on the issue.

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