The SVAO: Dedicated to the protection and preservation of Specialty Vehicles


The Specialty Vehicle Association of Ontario ( SVAO ) is a provincially based coalition of car clubs, individuals and businesses concerned about our ecosystem, automotive safety and keeping specialty vehicles on the road. The primary function of the SVAO is to act as the representative of the specialty vehicle community in matters of provincial and municipal concerns.

A specialty vehicle is defined as a motorized vehicle of personal or public interest, historical significance or rarity.

The mandate of the SVAO is :
* to establish the demographics of the specialty vehicle community,
* to guide the provincial and municipal governments in matters that impact or are of interest to the specialty vehicle community,
* to monitor all government initiatives that may impact upon the specialty vehicle community,
* to provide the specialty vehicle community with a forum for sharing information.


Due to a general concern about possible government legislation that might have an adverse effect on the old car hobby, two directors from each of the two largest car clubs in Ontario met informally at the spring Barrie flea market. This initial meeting between the Antique and Classic Car Club of Canada ( ACCCC ) and the Historical Automobile Society of Canada ( HASC ) led to an all clubs meeting at the fall Barrie flea market in regard to the formation of a provincial watchdog organization to represent the hobby in its dealings with the provincial government. An ad hoc steering committee was struck and charged with the task of trying to get this organization off the ground.

The committee consisted of representatives from the ACCCC, British Car Council, HASC, Lincoln and Continental Owners Club Canada ( LCOC ), Lotus Club Canada, MG Car Club Toronto, Rolls - Royce Owners Club Upper Canada, Toronto Triumph Club, and the Trillium Cadillac LaSalle Club. The group met a number of times in various locations and made three important decisions. The name SVAO was chosen to align with the Specialty Vehicle Association of British Columbia, a group with almost identical aspirations in B.C. The SVAO's mandate would be provincial, as there already exists a federal watchdog group known as the National Association of Antique Automobile Clubs of Canada Corporation ( NAAACCC). The committee also called a General Meeting in April where a good turnout of concerned people affirmed the above mandate and elected a slate of officers.

The newly elected executive met formally once a month to start to solve all of those details that any new organization encounters as well as attending many events to publize the SVAO. A survey was designed, tested and distributed to help establish the parameters of our specialty vehicle community as well as its contributions to society at large. Contact was made the various government agencies as well as the Clean Air pilot auto emissions centre and the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association ( OARA ).

Representation from the Canadian Street Rod Association ( CSRA ) and the handcrafted and kit car segment of the community became involved on the executive. A formal constitution was drawn up and approved at the Annual General Meeting ( AGM ). Other topics discussed at the AGM included membership, finances, scrappage programs as well as a guest speaker from the Ministry of Energy and the Environment ( MOEE ). The SVAO entered into an agreement with the Recycling Council of Ontario ( RCO ) to publize any vehicles that might be of interest to our members. This program run in conjunction with OARA, necessitated that the SVAO set up a hot line telephone number with a regularly updated
list for its members.

The big event of 1996 was the summer news leak that vehicle emissions testing would soon be announced. The SVAO issued a full scale Ontario alert and led the fight to protect specialty vehicles and their owners from unnecessary and unjust legislation. This massive campaign by all involved caused the government to take note of our concerns. While all of this took up a tremendous amount of time, the SVAO also decided to monitor the various municipal by-laws that influence our community.

This year started out at full throttle as the fight for the " twenty years old and exempt " rule in the area of emission testing continued with much lobbying, meetings, presentations, etc. A number of statements by various government officials showed that all were not clear as to what some of their colleagues were saying so the SVAO had to be there to make sure that we were all heading down the same path.

The AGM was very well attended and our members had a good discussion with the guest speaker from the MOEE who was direct and to the point in answering the inquiries, most of which centred on the emission testing. Concern was expressed at the under representation of related businesses in the membership of the SVAO. A new and very professional looking brochure regarding membership in the SVAO was well received.

The executive initiated the start of a series of meetings with the Ministry of Transportation ( MTO ) that would see the beginning of discussions on many long range topics such as vehicle licensing, safety items, insurance, etc. The continuation of these meetings was deemed to be beneficial to all concerned.

The SVAO was granted standing at an inquest into a fatality involving a specialty vehicle. Two of the directors took basically a week of their time to participate in this process and were generally pleased with the recommendations that came out of this inquest. We were fortunate that they were there to handle the situation.

An early New Year's resolution was to have a major membership push and this was started in the late fall.

The SVAO reached 90 club memberships which directly represents over 5000 people. Business memberships increased but not at the hoped for rate. An extra push will continue in this area through our quarterly newsletters in hopes that our members can get some results here. The members of the executive continue to go out and speak to various groups around the province. A number of the executive have been involved since the inception of the SVAO and this stability has been helpful but new faces have shown up and anyone with an interest is encouraged to come out and get involved.

The 1998 AGM was another great success for those who attended. They were able to listen to and question guest speakers from the Ministry of Environment ( MOE ), Ministry of Transportation ( MTO ), and Transport Canada. The SVAO discussed a number of areas of concern and cautioned its members to be ever vigilant and to let the group know of any potentially troublesome situations that they might hear about.


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