Injunction filed against city's Taxi/Limousine Bylaw
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Although the city’s Taxi/Limousine Bylaw was finally passed earlier this year, there remain particularly vocal proponents of re-opening the issue.
During the Community Services Committee meeting on Tuesday (June 19), a packed gallery of speakers was invited to speak on a variety of housekeeping changes administration was recommending to clean up the legislation. While the majority of these changes were grammar-related, staff also recommended the date for compliance with installation of interior and forward facing video cameras be pushed back from October to February 2013.
The bylaw comes into force on July 1 although there has been an injunction filed against it.
Ward 8 Councillor Paul Hubert, took over the meeting as chair Denise Brown, the Ward 11 councillor, declared a conflict of interest. Brown works for the Aboutown taxi company.
Although Hubert originally informed the speakers they were to remain focused on the housekeeping issues, it quickly became apparent the gallery had other ideas in mind. Speakers brought up a variety of topics, including the number of demerit points a taxi driver can receive before losing his or her license and the number of hours they can work.
Several of the speakers — in particular those who spoke after the meeting was moved to the council chamber after the original committee room was insufficient in size for the audience — also spoke passionately around their belief the council was intentionally ignoring their concerns.
Although the committee voted to send the housekeeping changes to council for final approval, the issues brought up by the gallery were also collected and referred to staff for further discussion.
For Hubert, who found himself constantly asking speakers to stick to the agenda, the decision to allow the conversation to expand beyond was a matter of respect, particularly towards the taxi community.
“Once one owner opens the door and carries on, how do you not let other people speak to it? It was an issue of openness,” Hubert said. “Yes, it was very repetitive; we heard the same thing over and over again. But I think these men, particularly, needed to feel they were heard and not shut down.”
Hubert said he believe the biggest issue of the night was the fact that during last fall’s deliberations over what would become the taxi/limousine bylaw, members of the taxi community focused too much on the “taxi versus limo” debate.
And while Hubert said he didn’t think the issues that were being raised would prove “particularly insurmountable,” the staff does need to take time and work through the various points.
“Staff will evaluate the specific issues; we aren’t going to reinvent the entire framework,” Hubert said. “We had an extensive public meeting on the whole taxi versus limousine issue; we aren’t going back down that road, in my view.”
Hubert’s view may prove slightly different from that of Mayor Joe Fontana. For his part, Fontana said issues such as the six demerit points, the 12-hour schedule or requirements to record fares were ones that need further discussion.
“Some of the issues they have raised, if in fact they are doable because they are technical and were really unintended consequences, why wouldn’t we open up the bylaw?” Fontana said. “From time to time, you are going to find out that certain things you thought would work are not workable. So we are always open to ideas and input and if the council decides they are worthy of consideration, we are going to do that.”
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