Renfrew, Ont. DriveTest centre to cut hours despite major test backlog
Despite hundreds of thousands of backlogged passenger road tests across Ontario, the Renfrew DriveTest Centre is set to cut its hours in half in November.
"Ever since the lockdowns have happened there's a lineup out the door most times of the day, any given day of the week," says Tauney Stinson, the co-owner of New Directions Driving School in Cobden, who is fighting to keep the hours at the Renfrew location.
"Now DriveTest basically told me that they're not going to let anyone know whether or not they're staying open until at least the first week of November, including their staff," Stinson tells CTV News.
In correspondence between Stinson and DriveTest, obtained by CTV Ottawa, DriveTest says that customer demand at smaller testing locations, such as Renfrew, was behind the reduction of hours.
Currently across Ontario as of October 1, 2021, the Ministry of Transportation says there is a backlog of 550,422 passenger road tests. Since March 2020, there have been approximately 421,827 road tests cancelled across the province. There was no backlog prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesperson for the MTO confirmed on Wednesday.
"Students of mine can't get a road test booked until May of 2022, or sometimes later," says Stinson, whose businesses educates about 150 to 200 students every year.
DriveTest also says as smaller testing centres reduce hours, temporary testing centres will begin opening. One of those temporary sites will open in Ottawa as of Oct. 18, with DriveTest saying it will support Ottawa, Winchester, Smiths Falls, Renfrew, and other surrounding communities. It's a move Stinson doesn't understand.
"A temporary site in Ottawa would basically be a portable with a port-a-potty," says Stinson, pointing to other temporary centres already in operation. "At this location there wouldn't be any truck tests, bus tests, and there's wouldn't be any G1 written tests of any kind," adds the driving instructor, all of which are offered at full-time sites, like Renfrew.
Stinson created a petition in order to put pressure on the centre to keep its current hours, which are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.