A name is fixed in a pleasant visit to the motor vehicles office


Going to a B.C. motor vehicles office can be a surprisingly pleasant experience.

I dreaded my visit, embracing a stereotype that says it’s a place with long lines and unpleasant people. But it wasn’t like that.

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When I walked into the McKenzie Avenue office in Saanich, a smiling woman behind a counter greeted me immediately: “Hi. What are you here to do today?” I told her I wanted to renew my driver’s licence. She pushed some buttons on a console, printed out a ticket and invited me to sit down. My ticket said B-138. When that alpha-numeric combination lit up on one of the signs above the line of wickets, it would be my turn. It’s the same setup as at the passport office.

I sat down on a cushioned chair, daydreamed, and noticed that there are public washrooms. About a dozen people were waiting.

It was my turn in about 10 minutes. Another smiling woman greeted me. I handed over my driver’s licence and my health card. We went through a checklist of questions and I paid $75 for the renewal, then had my non-smiling, machine-friendly mugshot taken. I received a temporary driver’s licence and a temporary health card, each of them printed on a piece of paper. My cards would arrive in the mail within 30 days, but likely much sooner, I was told.

The one wrinkle, which I wrote about in an earlier post, was that my driver’s licence name and my health card name need to match exactly, and they didn’t. Under new government rules, health cards are being re-issued and will expire after five years, instead of having no expiry. It’s part of an effort to cut down on fraud.

Driver’s licence and health card can be combined into one card, but there’s the option of having two.

Following the instructions that came with my driver’s licence renewal notice, I had tried to correct the name on my health card. (It was correct on my driver’s licence.) But the health system’s computer template wouldn’t accept my four-part name.

So, I went to motor vehicle’s office with trepidation.

Which proved to be unwarranted. Their system did some magic, and my name was correctly rendered for both driver’s licence and health card. But because of the need for a name correction, getting a single card was not an option.

I went into the motor vehicles office on a Monday. The driver’s licence arrived in the mail the following week on the Thursday, the health card followed on the Friday.

In the world of driver’s licence and health card bureaucracy, I’m set for the next five years.

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