Airdrie City council passes final reading of taxi bylaw
Airdrie City council approved a number of changes to the City’s Taxi Bylaw on Oct. 7.
The amendments to the bylaw that has been in place since February 2010 will enact more rigid requirements for drivers as well as add a pair of surcharges for specialty fares such as airport trips and the use of taxi vans.
The new stipulations for taxi drivers now include a mandatory CSIS (Canadian Security Information Service) background check for drivers who have lived outside of Canada. All drivers were previously required to complete an annual RCMP criminal background check, which will remain in place.
“This CSIS check imposes a higher level of review and is a proactive best practice to ensure the safety of our residents,” said Manager of Legislative Services Sharon Pollyck.
Driver terms have also been expanded to include an English proficiency test, an ability to demonstrate geographical knowledge of Airdrie and a mandate to take eight consecutive hours off every 24 hours.
In addition to the new policies, a $4 surcharge has been added to taxi trips to the Calgary Airport in order to supplement a fee that cab drivers must pay to the Airport Authority. Van cabs that are required by passengers in order to transport cargo or large groups will now have a $6.50 surcharge. Both new fees are effective immediately, while new driver regulations will come in to effect on April 1, 2014.
The bylaw was reviewed nearly a month ago, following an open house on Sept. 12 where the public was welcomed to add their input on the proposed changes as well as suggest their own.
Local businessman and alderman candidate Mohamed Benini was one of the seven Airdrie residents in attendance at the open house to speak about the taxi bylaw amendments and his suggestions were brought before council on Oct. 7.
Benini was not in attendance at the Oct. 7 meeting and says that no one informed him that final reading of the bylaw would be coming before council.
“I didn’t know that this was coming forward at all. I had understood that it wasn’t being brought forward until December,” said Benini. “They (council) knew that I had a problem with this bylaw and no one informed me or anyone in the taxi industry about this and it wasn’t advertised anywhere.”
The City of Airdrie is required to advertise public hearings, but not subsequent meetings of bylaw.
One suggestion from Benini that got aldermen talking was that Airdrie should have a cap on the number of cab companies allowed in the city, similar to the City of Calgary.
Pollyck explained that this has created bidding wars for taxi licenses in Calgary and that licenses are being sold for nearly $150,000. She said this was not recommended in Airdrie and Mayor Peter Brown agreed.
“I’m definitely not in favour of having a monopoly of taxi companies in the city,” said Brown. “I’m a believer in free enterprise.”
Deputy Mayor Allan Hunter backed up Brown’s statements.
“I wouldn’t be in favour of putting a cap on the number of taxi companies we allow in the city,” said Hunter. “Everyone should have the opportunity to start their own business. The owners who know what they’re doing will succeed and those who don’t will not.”
The City of Airdrie currently has 10 taxi companies, 45 taxis and 65 drivers.