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Office closure stymies driver
Licensing office workshop causes headache for woman from fly-in community

Myles Dolphin
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A woman living in a remote, fly-in community outside Yellowknife was hit with an unfortunate surprise April 25 when she discovered the motor vehicle licensing office on 50 Street was closed.

Instead of being able to go inside and get a renewal sticker for the licence plate on the vehicle she keeps in Yellowknife, she was greeted with a "closed" sign on the front door of the building, much to her dismay.

The sign explained the closure of the office was due to workshops being provided for issuing agents, who were being brought up to speed on certain changes related to fees and services.

As a result, the office was closed for two days and the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, was forced to drive to a Northern Farm Training Institute workshop in Hay River without a valid licence plate.

"I only go to town once or twice a year as it is extremely expensive (around $3,000) to charter a plane to Yellowknife," she said, adding the plane ticket was provided by the institute.

"They paid for this very expensive charter for me and since each workshop has a waiting list of 40 people, the instructors had made it clear that we had to show up or our place would be given to another."

The woman was stricken with a minor panic attack when she saw the sign.

"Believe me when I say that those few days of having to drive my vehicle without the proper licensing were very stressful and my fingers were crossed that I wouldn't have any trouble, which I didn't," she said.

Prior to her departure, she did not happen to see the Department of Transportation's notice on its website that the office would be closed for a period of time.

Michael Conway, registrar of motor vehicles at the Department of Transportation, said it is unfortunate she was inconvenienced in this manner but it is important to check the website whenever possible.

"It is important for our front-line staff to have an opportunity to improve their existing skills and develop new ones through training and development," he stated in an e-mail to Yellowknifer on May 10.

"The department does everything possible to make accessing our services and efficient as possible,

including allowing clients to renew vehicle registrations up to three months ahead of time."

Conway added that the department is currently working on making improvements that will allow clients to renew their vehicle registrations online, making trips to a licensing office unnecessary.

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