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Taxi bylaw frustrating owner

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 11:28 am

Mohammed Benini crauches beside one of his pink Avacabs.
Mohammed Benini crauches beside one of his pink Avacabs.
File Photo/Rocky View Publishing

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Airdrie taxi companies will have until Feb. 14 to decide on an independent colour for their cars, or the City will assign one to them, and that’s causing frustration for one local taxi company owner.

Mohammed Benini – owner of Cowboy Taxi and Avacab – is frustrated with the “heavy regulations” the City has put on the taxi companies.

In a letter obtained by the Airdrie City View the City of Airdrie has issued a timeframe for taxis to pick a colour for their cabs and only one company can have the coveted yellow colour.

“You may not select any colour that has already been assigned,” the letter stated. “Failure to either select a colour or respond to this letter, will result in the City of Airdrie selecting a colour or colour combination for you.”

Airdrie taxi companies were asked to participate in a meeting that was held at Jan. 22 to select and appoint a colour scheme, Benini explained. He added that’s where he learned that he will not be able to use his existing colour of yellow for the Cowboy Taxi vans, white for the limousine and pink for his Avacabs.

According to the City, Yellowcab received the yellow colour, and the companies will have until April 1, 2015 to change the colour to the one selected.

“I haven’t picked a colour yet,” he said. “Only three companies got the colours they requested and I don’t think that’s right.”

The regulations were included in the Taxi Bylaw, which was passed by council three years ago, but the City enforcing the rules.

“I’ve chosen a colour that represents my business and now I have to change that,” Benini said. “I don’t think it’s fair, it’s up to the companies (to choose a colour) not the City.”

According to the City, the change was made to reduce confusion for customers, and all companies were notified of the change via a letter from the licensing department.

“We decided to start enforcing that part of the bylaw due to customer safety and confusion,” said Colleen Kinely, chief license officer with the City of Airdrie. “I have been getting quite a few calls from customers who want to make either a complaint or find something they misplaced but don’t remember the name of the cab company they took. Having each company with a colour will help in identifying them.”

The “red-tape” is frustrating for Benini – who ran and lost in last October’s municipal election on the issue of the Taxi Bylaw requiring owners to perform a CSIS criminal background check – and the long list of requirements to operate in the city is costing the business.

Benini estimates the cost to repaint his fleet of seven cars will be $1,500 per vehicle, and with the licensing requirements it take between four to six weeks to get a suitable driver on the road.

Benini said that he’s raised his concerns to the City, but feels his complaints have been ignored.

“I do not feel there is a large amount of red tape,” Kinely said. “We do feel it is fair, no one company or person gets to do anything different than anyone else and I think our system works very well for our community. As I’m sure you have been reading, Calgary’s system is also ‘not perfect’ and causing great difficulty in Calgary.”


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