Town Council eyes ban on student driving classes near local schools

February 2, 2017   ·   0 Comments

Orangeville Council has directed Town staff to look into whether the Town can legally prohibit driving academies from carrying out driving classes and road tests in front of local schools.

The discussion at Monday night’s council meeting came about as councillors reviewed a letter from a local resident expressing her concerns with the heavy flow of daytime traffic around Island Lake Public School.

Doreen Cruickshank wrote that she was concerned for the safety of the children who attend the school and called on council to take action against the “multiple” driving institutions currently making use of the “busy” road.

“Oak Ridge Road has been inundated with driving schools giving instructions while children are going to school. These driving schools are from Brampton, Mississauga, Bolton, Woodbridge, Kleinburg, Orangeville and even one was seen from Toronto,” Ms. Cruickshank wrote. “Apparently the MTO is also giving driving tests at this time in unmarked cars.”

Ms. Cruickshank said she has observed several instances where individuals behind the wheel aren’t slowing down to the posted speed limit, while she has also noticed inexperienced drivers practising parallel parking and three-point turns early in the morning immediately beside the Island Lake Public School entrance, potentially putting young students at risk.

“I don’t think that driving schools should be allowed on any street in Orangeville where there is a school, whether it be an (elementary) school or high school. The safety of our children must come first,” the letter reads. “Surely these instructors should have a respect for our community and our citizens. They should know better.

Coun. Gail Campbell, who brought the letter to Council’s attention, said Council “should not take any chances” with this sort of thing, pointing to an incident in North York on Jan. 18 when two men were hit by a car manned by a learner driver at the conclusion of a road test.

“I feel very strongly about this issue and I feel, if there’s something we can do to address some of these safety concerns, we should do it,” Coun. Campbell said. “We need to protect our children.”

This marked the third time the issue of driving academies carrying out road tests in school zones had come before council, with Coun. Campbell saying complaints had been submitted to the municipality in both 2005 and 2009. After looking into the issue, the Town was told then that they had no authority to restrict a driving academy’s access to municipal roads, although this may have changed in recent years.

“We believe there is a way of limiting driving on certain streets for safety reasons and municipal staff will be putting a report together that we hope to present to council on March 6,” Town Clerk Susan Greatrix told Council.

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