By Jessica Lovell
So far, a plan to keep driving instructors from all taking their students to the same streets seems to be working.
“The bylaw was created in a collaborative effort with the driving instructor industry as well as people from the driver testing centre,” said Doug Godfrey, the city’s manager of bylaw compliance, security and licensing.
“We’ve received quite a bit of support from the driving instructor industry.”
The city re-introduced a category for driving instructors to its business licensing bylaw Sept. 1, largely in response to complaints about too much driver training happening on certain streets.
Driving instructors, whether they are Guelph-based or from out of town, are required to have a business licence to operate in the city, and are now also required to stay off certain streets.
“They are not permitted to operate on streets that are used as examination routes,” said Godfrey, explaining that the main purpose of requiring a licence was to allow the city to have control over where instructors take their students.
Approximately 100 licences have been issued since Sept. 1, and applications are still coming in, he
He estimates that more than 50 per cent of the licences have been issued to driving instructors coming from outside the city.
It’s not uncommon for driving instructors to do pre-test lessons in the town where a student has booked a test, which is generally why instructors from other towns come to Guelph.
Complaints arose around safety issues related to too many instructors using the same streets – mostly around the drive test centre near Woodlawn Road and Silvercreek Parkway.
Since bylaw enforcement began on Oct. 1, complaints have declined, said Godfrey.
In October, there were a couple of complaints, where previously there would probably have been more than 10, he said.
Bylaw enforcement officers have yet to issue a ticket, he said.
“We’ve not had any issues besides warnings,” he said.
If an instructor is issued a ticket for operating in Guelph without a local business licence, the fine is $750. Caught operating on a prohibited street, an instructor could face a set fine of $500.
“We encourage them to be licensed rather than pay the fine,” said Godfrey, noting the cost to get an initial licence is $148, with a $99 annual renewal fee – much less than the fine.
The city has promoted the new licensing requirements through educational campaigns through Ontario driving school and driving instructor associations, as well as through the testing centre.
The instructors are given a licence plate that they can display on the rear of their vehicle, but it is not compulsory, said Godfrey.
So far the bylaw has generated “a lot of compliance with very little issues,” he said. “We have not received any negative feedback from either the driving instructor industry or the residents.”