Hants West MLA Chuck Porter is fighting for extended hours of operation at the Registry of Motor Vehicles officein Windsor.
Porter says residents contact him with complaints about long wait times, and inconvenient service hours, at the local Access Nova Scotia Centre on a monthly basis. The office is only open Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“There’s just not enough hours that we’re open here to service the public that come here. We service a large area,” Porter said in an interview outside of the Water Street-based office.
By 9:55 a.m. on April 26, 17 people were outside the Access Nova Scotia Centre, waiting for the doors to open. Porter says he has personally asked Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister John MacDonell to see to it that the office hours are extended.
“I’ve asked for another full day, at least,” said Porter.
He says many of his constituents are unable to travel to Kentville or Halifax to access those offices when the one in Windsor is closed.
“If we’ve got an office here, why aren’t we using it and taking full advantage of what we have to offer?”
While he agrees with more services being available online, he says the government must understand that many Hants West residents are unable to take that route.
“Not everybody has the ability to go online and do their business,” the Conservative MLA said.
“I’m going to continue to press this… in hopes of getting what we need.”
Celeste Sulliman, a spokesperson for Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, said 5,986 customers went through the Access Nova Scotia office in Windsor in the 2010/11 fiscal year, but usage slightly decreased in the 2011/12 year, which saw 5,815 clients visiting the office. Using these numbers, Sullivan estimated that an average of 14 customers are served per each hour of operation.
“The thing about Windsor is we don’t have a numbering system in place to accurately monitor wait times, but staff there do their best to serve everyone as quickly and efficiently as possible,” she said.
Sulliman says they do not have documented complaints on file regarding the wait times in Windsor, but citizens in other areas of Nova Scotia have “formally criticized service.”
“It’s the fiscal reality that we’re operating with,” she said, later adding: “At this time we’re not looking… at increasing staffing levels or extending operating hours in any of our locations.”
Instead, Sulliman says the department is working on creating more online service offerings. She noted that motorists can now renew their vehicle permits via the Internet, and a temporary receipt will act as proof of purchase until the stickers are mailed out.
“We always look at how busy offices are, what kind of services are available there [and] whether or not people are using the services that we’re making available,” she said.
“We’re constantly trying to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of people in those communities.”