Taxi Bylaw does not violate Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
By: Matt Durnan
| Posted: Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 06:00 am
Airdrie City staff, with the assistance of legal counsel has found that their Taxi Bylaw is not in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but that it was in need of some tweaks.
City council discussed amendments to the bylaw during an April 22 meeting of council. Discussions were prompted after Airdrie taxi driver Mohamed Benini brought up questions as to whether the bylaw infringed upon the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms during a Feb. 7 meeting of council.
Benini’s concerns were focused on the Chief License Inspector’s power to suspend or refuse a taxi license to a person with an outstanding criminal charge that has not yet been settled in court.
Alderman Allan Hunter brought up the point that the taxi industry is the lone sector in Airdrie where this type of rule exists.
“This is the only job where we can essentially yank someone’s license while they’re awaiting a court decision, do we do this with bus drivers?” said Hunter.
“My concern is that what happens if the charges don’t stick, then what about that block of time that a person has lost where they were unable to work?”
Manager of Legislative Affairs Sharon Pollyck fielded Hunter’s questions.
“There is a perceived difference between a bus driver and a taxi driver,” said Pollyck. “The dynamics are much different with a bus that is on a scheduled route as opposed to a taxi that can be picking someone up who is by themselves at 2 a.m.”
Alderman Candice Kolson touched on her experience with driving buses, referencing First Student Canada, which is the City’s provider for transit services.
“First Student has their own safety policy and they do checks on their drivers,” said Kolson. “If someone has a criminal record, they’re not driving a bus.”
Some minor discrepancies were found in the bylaw by the City’s legal counsel that Pollyck said, “needed some tightening up.”
Proposed additions to the wording of the bylaw were that applicants for a taxi license must disclose any pending charges under the Criminal Code and Controlled Substances Act.
“It should be mentioned that these charges have to have been within the past five years and must have a direct correlation to changing or impacting public safety,” said Pollyck.
Another addition that was proposed would be put in place to keep lines of communication open between the Chief License Inspector and prospective taxi drivers.
If an individual is facing a denial, revocation or suspension of their Chauffeur License, they are allowed to make written representations to the Inspector in support of their case within 14 days prior to the final decision being made.
The Chief License Inspector shall in return issue a written decision, including reasons for denial, revocation or suspension within 14 days of receiving the individual’s submission, with the individual’s license being temporarily suspended while the matter is being reviewed.
First and second readings were given to the bylaw, however, permission for third reading was not given as council did not receive a unanimous vote in favour with Alderman Hunter voting in opposition.
Third reading will be revisited at a later date.