Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is concerned that new driver licensing software by the Yukon government will not communicate information aboutcity issued tickets easily and create needless work. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse officials call Yukon’s new driver licensing software ‘a step back’

The mayor says he’s ‘surprised’ YG is using a system that will no longer sync with the city’s

City of Whitehorse officials say the Yukon government’s new driver licensing software could end up causing headaches for the city.

The territory’s new YuDrive program is set to launch Nov. 4. City officials are concerned the new system will make it harder to deal with parking tickets issued by city bylaw officers that need to be paid by drivers to renew their vehicles at the territorial motor vehicles branch.

Drivers who accumulate $100 or more in parking tickets have to pay them off before they can register their vehicle in the Yukon.

The current system allows for information (plate numbers and such) to be communicated easily between the governments. That will change with the new system.

At Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 15 meeting, Mayor Dan Curtis questioned city staff about the Yukon government’s new software and how it will impact the city.

Lindsay Schneider, the city’s acting director of corporate services, explained the new system would not be fully integrated with the city’s system, as is currently the case.

Rather, city staff will be required to copy and paste information from the territory’s system into its own, a process that will take longer. Information that now takes about 30 seconds to move from one system to another will take 70 seconds to be cut and pasted into the city’s system, she said.

“We view it as a step back,” Schneider said, adding city officials have put forward their concerns about the change to Yukon government officials who indicated the system “will meet their needs fully.”

Curtis said that all indications the city had from YG were that any new software could be compatible with the city’s system.

But the new system will double the work time of city staff, he said.

“I’m surprised, quite frankly,” he told reporters after the meeting.

The city is requesting another meeting with territorial officials, including Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn, to discuss the issue.

Highways and Public Works officials, however, stand by the plans to launch the new software Nov. 4.

They point to a letter sent to the city this summer addressing the same concerns city officials already brought up.

“The solution provided by the new system (web portal) is a result of ongoing discussions between GY (Government of Yukon) and the city over a number of years, and also addresses a number of privacy and information security concerns that have been raised by a privacy impact assessment that was undertaken on the existing data transfer interface,” reads the letter signed by Ryan Parry, assistant deputy minister for the territory’s transportation division.

“This has provided a best-possible balance between the multiple issues that both the city and GY experience (e.g. lack of vendor technical support for system modifications, audit capability, etc.). Transferring the data between the web portal and the city’s financial system can be done using copy-and-paste functionality, which will minimize any transposition errors.”

It goes on to state a mapping file will be provided to the city to deal with client numbers and it’s expected to be a straightforward process.

The letter outlines a number of initiatives including a demo and discussion about the new system with city staff in April 2019, a user guide that’s been provided to city finance staff; and a link to a test portal for the city to become familiar with the system.

A hands-on-training session could also be provided at the city’s request, the letter states.

“Unfortunately, as driver and vehicle information is updated on a continuous basis, it is not possible to retain the existing system functionality after the launch of YuDrive,” it reads. “We remain committed to working with, and supporting the city in partnership in this area.”

Highways and Public Works spokesperson Oshea Jephson also pointed to efforts to ensure personal information is protected.

“Because of HPW’s collaborative efforts, the City of Whitehorse is able to collect their unpaid parking tickets using our system and we are pleased to allow this continued access while better protecting the private information of Yukoners,” he said.

The city does not have information on how many people are paying off parking tickets to register their vehicles each year.

“Unfortunately the city does not have the ability to track this information because not all people that have tickets over $100 are coming in to pay based on having been refused renewal by Motor Vehicles,” city spokesperson Myles Dolphin wrote in an email. “Further to this, the city needs to access the owner information for each ticket issued. The City issued approx. 24,000 tickets in 2018.”

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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