The MLA for Queens-Shelburne, Kim Masland, said she’s received a number of complaints about the ongoing closure of the Liverpool and Shelburne offices of Access Nova Scotia and their Registry of Motor Vehicles.
The closure, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, has meant that residents of Liverpool have had to travel about 45 minutes to Bridgewater while those in Shelburne have a 45-minute drive or more to Yarmouth.
“It’s an extra-added expense to travel to complete government-mandated business, and that is the big thing for me,” said Masland. “It’s business that you have to have done or you are going to get fined.”
She acknowledged that the government has done a bit of work to enable some of the transactions to be done online, such as vehicle permit renewals, address changes and driver’s licence renewals. However, that option doesn’t work for everyone, she said.
“When I look at Queens County there are still many places that don’t have adequate internet. There is also the fact that 28 per cent of the population of Queens County is over the age of 65.” Moreover, said Masland, “they may not have the knowledge to operate a computer or even own one for that matter.”
She understands that people can make an appointment to get into the Bridgewater and Yarmouth offices, but she’s heard of people having to wait for up to two weeks to get in.
Gary Andrea, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, reports that staff are working on a re-opening plan in Liverpool and Shelburne.
“We do recognize it has been inconvenient for some clients in areas where our part-time offices are temporarily closed,” said Andrea. “The size and configuration of the offices are presenting some challenges as we consider how best to adhere to the public health protocols to protect the health and safety of both our clients and staff.”
He added that people can access their website as well or make telephone appointments.
Masland created a post on her MLA site on September 14 concerning the issue, to which several residents responded, including Lindi McLellan.
“I know an 80-year-old man who has gone 3 times to Bridgewater office and sees the lines and goes back home. You cannot expect older people to stand outside with nothing to sit on for extended periods of time. Plus the phone in to get appointments was so backed up last 2 weeks you couldn’t get through or were hung up on after being on the line waiting for over an hour,” she said.
Paul Hawkes commented: “I’ve been to Bridgewater office twice, have to go 2 times for a home built trailer. First-time wait was 1 1/2 hrs, I was there 30 minutes before opening. Second time one hour wait, I was there 15 mins before opening.”
“If the government is asking students to go back to school and wear masks all day, I personally do not see any reason why these satellite offices cannot be open,” said Masland.
She also noted that essential service workers such as grocery store employees have been at work since COVID-19 started.
“We are also at the point now where we are living with a new normal. Keeping government offices closed to me is just not the service that taxpayers are paying for. It’s time to open these offices and do the job they are supposed to be doing,” said Masland.
Facebook photo, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin