Cab company concerned about changes to bylaw
One Airdrie resident is not impressed with some changes to the City’s taxi bylaw.
Mohamed Benini spoke out about his concerns during an open house at City Hall on Sept. 10.
Benini has appeared before Airdrie City council on a number of occasions to speak about Taxi Bylaw B-55/2009. He has been an Airdrie resident for five years and owns two taxi companies in the city, Avacab Taxis and Cowboy Taxi.
The proposed change Benini disagrees with is the section regarding drivers being subject to background checks by CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) if they have previously lived in a country other than Canada.
The bylaw states that, “a CSIS search imposes a higher level of review and potentially contributes to the safety of all customers utilizing taxis in Airdrie.”
Benini thinks it’s an unnecessary expense.
“All taxi drivers are already required to get background checks by the RCMP,” said Benini. “Just because someone lived outside of the country, they have to be checked twice now? I was born in Ghana but have lived in Canada since I was 12, I’m 30 now and I have two kids, will they have to get CSIS background checks if they want to drive a taxi because their father wasn’t born here? How far does it go?”
Alderman Fred Burley said components of the taxi bylaw have been pulled from other communities.
“I’m aware that Mohamed has been a vocal opponent of this bylaw on a few occasions,” said Burley. “The thing is, as Mayor Brown mentioned last meeting (Sept. 3) Mohamed has been the only person of all the cab companies in town that has spoken out against it.”
Benini was on board with the bylaw’s requirements for drivers to pass an English assessment test and be able to display competent geographical knowledge of the city.
“Those are fine with me, that just makes for better quality business,” said Benini. “I don’t really agree with the section of cab drivers being required to take an eight-hour break every 24 hours.”
Section 5.1 of the bylaw states that drivers are mandated “to work no longer than 15 consecutive hours and then take an eight-hour break.”
“This is a rule for truckers because they work long haul, the average taxi trip is only 10 to 15 minutes” said Benini. “With cabs there’s a lot more waiting and the nice thing about being a cab driver is you’re able to set your own hours because you want to be able to work when it’s busy. What this is doing is telling drivers who work the day shift that they can’t work the busy times at night because they’re mandated to break for eight hours.”
Burley defended this section, saying that he was in favour of cab drivers being required to take eight hour breaks after a 15-hour shift.
“I’d agree with the eight hour breaks, you have to be able to concentrate when you’re at work, it’s like any other job,” said Burley.
City staff will consider the responses to the bylaw amendments. The bylaw is scheduled for second reading on the Sept. 16.