A Yellowknife woman says her husband, a senior citizen, was unable to access the Department of Infrastructure’s driver and motor vehicle office on Oct. 27 because he hadn’t made an appointment by email first.

However, the department says that her depiction is misleading because there were no walk-in appointments available on that morning.

Juanita Sangris posted to the Yellowknife Rant and Rave Facebook page that her husband has no email address and attempted to make a walk-in appointment at the 49 Street office.

“My hubby, who is a senior and has no email address, went there this morning to renew his plates only to be told he had to email to book an appointment,” Sangris wrote. “He told (a staff member) he doesn’t have email and they told him that’s the way to do it.”

Sangris pointed out a notice on the GNWT website that states that bookings are preferred but that walk-ins are first come, first served.

“(My husband) said there was absolutely nobody in there when he was there first thing this morning. They couldn’t even take the time to help him to book an appointment,” she wrote.

But the GNWT says services weren’t available at the time requested.

“First-come, first-served appointments only applied when walk-in appointments were available,” the department stated in an email. “Unfortunately, there were no walk-in appointments available the morning of Oct 27.

The department stated that there has been a first-come, first served policy for walk-in appointments since July 14.

“We informed the public that walk-in appointments would be scheduled on a first come first-served basis,” a department email to NNSL Media states. “Yellowknife clients were advised to book an appointment in advance as walk-ins were not guaranteed due to the limited capacity of the issuing office.”

The department adds, however, that there was a high volume of appointment requests.

“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 GNWT stated.

To accommodate seniors, the department says an email address is not required to schedule an appointment. Clients can also use the telephone and leave a voicemail with information regarding the service required, such as a driver’s licence or vehicle registration; the first and last name of the person needing an appointment and whether the person has previously obtained services at the issuing office.

No more walk-in appointments 

As NNSL Media reported last Friday, the department cancelled walk-in appointments entirely as of Nov. 2.

The decision came after evaluating the walk-in appointments procedure and frustration expressed by residents.

“Although we recognize the value of walk-in appointments to our clients, they are difficult to accommodate because the approved Covid-19 Exposure Control Plan reduces the capacity of the DMV waiting area,” the department stated in an email. “With colder temperatures on the way, we do not want clients to wait outdoors only to be told that they cannot be served.

NNSL Media attempted to contact Sangris for further comment, but she couldn’t be reached as of Monday.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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