Yellowknife’s driver and motor vehicle office, or DMV, will stop accepting walk-ins from Monday and serve only people who book in advance.
Friday’s announcement follows complaints from some visitors that walk-in appointments – affected by pandemic-related restrictions – weren’t being appropriately handled and were causing lengthy delays.
Some residents expressed surprise at the announcement, saying they had already been turned away on the understanding that walk-ins were not available.
The territory said an employee would be trained to manage the ongoing high volume of calls and emails as people look to book appointments.
“The Department of Infrastructure has heard the public’s concerns and understands that the walk-in process had been frustrating for some clients,” the NWT government said in a news release.
“While accessing services without an appointment is convenient for clients, the limited capacity in the waiting area due to the approved Covid-19 exposure control plan makes this process challenging to safely accommodate.
“The oncoming colder weather is also expected to create additional capacity challenges as clients will be unable to wait outside.”
People are now asked to book in advance either by email or by calling (867) 767-9087, which will reach a voicemail service asking you to leave your name and whether you require driver licensing or vehicle registration.
Cabin Radio had first approached the Department of Infrastructure on Tuesday regarding frustrations experienced by some residents attending the DMV.
Shortly after this report was first published, the department said in an email that walk-ins had never been guaranteed because of the office’s limited capacity.
One source of some residents’ frustration and confusion may have been that the DMV never designated any appointment slots specifically for walk-ins.
The department wrote: “Due to the high volume of appointment requests and in order to serve as many clients as possible, walk-in appointment slots were not reserved.
“Instead, when cancellations occurred, walk-in appointments were booked into those vacancies.”
The department urged residents to use its website if possible. In many cases, vehicle registration renewals or cancellations are available online, as are renewals and replacements for driver licences or identification cards.
“Additionally, in the coming weeks, the GNWT will hire and train an employee to manage the ongoing high volume of phone calls and emails to the Yellowknife DMV office,” the department told Cabin Radio.
“Staff will continue to respond to clients’ phone calls and emails within two business days.”
The territorial government thanked its staff for their work during the pandemic, adding: “The department would also like to thank the public for being patient and kind to DMV employees as they navigate a new work environment with significantly more challenges.”