It has been a dreaded part of licence sticker renewals for a long time now: that requirement to have an e-test done on your vehicle before a new sticker for your licence plate can be issued. The Drive Clean test determines if your vehicle meets Ontario emissions standards, and it usually takes a fairly quick visit to a licenced testing centre to find out if your vehicle passes the test. But things changed here in North Grenville without anyone being warned in advance.
In fact, it was only when a car had been connected to the testing machine at a local garage in Kemptville that the garage owner discovered that his contract with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks had not been renewed. The owner at first thought that he had forgotten to fill in a form, or pay a fee; but the fact was that the Ontario Government, the old one under Premier Kathleen Wynne, had decided to cut back the number of e-test centres, but did not think it necessary to tell those centres being cut out of the program.
As a result, there is only one e-test centre still operating in North Grenville, and that is at the Canadian Tire store at Colonnade. There are two problems with this initiative by the authorities. First, of course, is the unprofessional and disgraceful manner in which the new arrangements were made. Not bothering to even inform a business that their contract was not being renewed, after twenty years of service, was appalling. Basic decency would demand that some respect and explanation be granted; an opportunity for the business to inform their clients and to prepare for the change.
The other problem has to do with the impact this decision is having on drivers. For example, 416 Auto, in Kemptville, is still getting 6 to 10 calls every day from drivers needing an e-test on their vehicle. The staff at Canadian Tire is now having to handle every single e-test required by drivers in the area, resulting in a two week waiting list at the time of going to print. This can be a serious problem for some drivers, as, should their vehicle fail the e-test, when it is finally done, it can mean another few weeks before a re-test can be done. This leaves the driver without a legal means of transport for as much as a month, or even more.
Keith Lindsay, at 416 Auto, notes that people needing an e-test in a hurry could always be catered to under the old system. He had three employees qualified to conduct the test, so someone was usually available. There was a flexibility in his service that made the system work smoothly and with minimum delay to the client.
This is not the first time the Ontario Government has been so disrespectful of North Grenville residents. The attempt to close the Service Ontario centre a few years ago was only foiled through public protest and a widely-supported petition to the Legislature at Queen’s Park, presented by Steve Clark, MPP. Now that the same representative is a member of the Ford Cabinet, as Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing, perhaps something could be done to reverse this latest thoughtless move by Queen’s Park bureaucrats who seem to be completely ignorant of the rapidly-increasing population here in the municipality. We need more services, not fewer, and we need to look for redress from this “Peoples’ Government”.