New licence hits the streets

By the end of business Monday there should be at least 100 new Yukon licenses in drivers’ wallets, according to motor vehicles.

By the end of business Monday there should be at least 100 new Yukon licences in drivers’ wallets, according to motor vehicles.

At 8 a.m., the Steele Street office was about as busy as usual, except the lines of customers were replaced by camera-toting media and public officials eager to see the Yukon’s new, secure, drivers’ licences.

The new cards will be harder to forge, says Yukon Ombudsmen and Privacy Commissioner Tracy-Anne McPhee.

However, “it’s up to the individuals to protect that information; it’s their card and they can agree or not agree for that information to be scanned or copied.”

New applicants, or those whose current licences need to be renewed, are welcome to get the new cards now. Those wishing to simply get a new one will have to wait until Thursday.

The process takes about 15 minutes, says Walter Brennan, manager of Yukon motor vehicles.

Getting a new licence for the territory took much longer, he says.

The complaints from drivers who wanted better ID started in the last two or three years, says Brennan.

“Since 9/11 there’s been a greater emphasis on secure identification. Every jurisdiction in this country and in the US had exactly the same type of drivers’ licence that we had, it’s just that they’ve just moved a little faster to change it. So, to a certain extent, we live in the North, there hasn’t been such a great demand to change our drivers’ license as there has been in the southern areas.”

Nunavut and the Northwest Territories changed their licences two years ago, Brennan adds.

Yukon and New Jersey were the last to switch, he says.

A heated tent, with tea and coffee, has been set up just outside the Whitehorse office to screen people, ensuring they have proof of identity, signature, birth date and Yukon residency.

The fee remains $50 for a new applicant or renewal. To switch to a new card, it’s $15 and you can get a simple identification card for $25.

The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will have extended hours starting Thursday until Saturday.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at