The owners of the car control school held at the Minden fairgrounds and community centre every winter have asked the municipal emergency control group to rethink its decision to not allow them to operate this year due to COVID-19 closures.

President and chief instructor, Ian Law, made a delegation to the Dec. 17 Minden council meeting.

He said while they understand the decision was based over safety concerns during the pandemic, “we believe the (control group) was not in full understanding of our concern for public safety and the safety protocols we have in place to minimize transmission.”

He added he was not sure they know exactly what the school does.

He said the bulk of their work is training drivers to be safer on winter roads. The course includes classroom sessions and skills building driving exercises to help students understand techniques in how to control or regain control of their vehicles in limited traction conditions.

He added the majority of their clients come from government agencies, including Health Canada and the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

“This winter, York Regional Police had requested dates to train some of their officers at our winter driving course,” he said.

Law said they take their COVID safety protocols seriously and have run their car control courses in the GTA with strict protocols in place. He said they have reduced the number of participants to ensure social distancing in the classroom. Everyone must wear masks at all times and sanitization stations are set up and utilized often. They have hired a dedicated COVID coordinator whose sole job is to ensure everyone complies with the protocols. He added that vehicle windows must remain open at all times and they have the option of running the exercises with the instructor outside of the vehicle.

In Minden, he said, they can run courses with no direct local contacts at all.

Mayor Brent Devolin, who sits on the emergency control group with DeputyMayor Lisa Schell and some senior staff, said he knows what the school does and its COVID protocols.

However, he said with construction at the community centre and now COVID, no one has been able to use the community centre. He added the emergency control group is keeping an eye on lockdowns continuing in parts of the province, which is why they have stuck to their decision.

“But that doesn’t mean the dialogue can’t continue, that elements of this can’t be further discussed. And as circumstances change in the province, and with respect to our municipal facility, this doesn’t mean that all is lost for a season,” he said.

Devolin added he would love circumstances to change so they can open the facility in January or February. He said they also can’t pick and choose who gets to use facilities. “It’s like picking your favourite child. We can’t make decisions on one without respect for the others.

“I think that the decision that we’ve made for the moment holds.”

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