Proposal gets cool reception from council, drivers

Bylaw chief pitches taxi beef board


If city bylaw officer Rod Mugford has his way, the next time you don't see eye to eye with your taxi driver, you'll be able to take it to the board.

Mugford pitched to councillors Tuesday a taxi complaints board that would serve as a forum for passengers to air their grievances about drivers, and vice versa.

"Often these complaints aren't directly covered under the bylaw," Mugford said in an interview. "This board would not only be to discuss the driver, it could also be for issues with the public."

But council was hesitant to create a new layer of bureaucracy when the city already has a taxi advisory committee and directed Mugford to draw up new terms of reference for the existing taxi committee.

Taxi committee chair Al Hayward said the taxi advisory committee is already planning to rewrite the bylaw and that the industry can police itself.

But councillors Glenn Williams and Simon Nattaq disagreed.

"We do have a role to play (regulating the taxi industry)," Williams said. "We already set the rate. We already make the rules."

Earlier this month, councillors Jimmy Kilabuk and Simon Nattaq said they'd received complaints that elders were being charged the full $6 fare for rides, despite the fact that elders over 65 are supposed to pay only $5 if they show proof of age.

And previously, taxi drivers have complained of problems with violent, intoxicated or amorous passengers.

Pai-Pa Taxi manager Craig Dunphy said he doesn't see why complaints can't be dealt with through the city's existing taxi committee.

"If one of my drivers screws up I have no problem with suspending him or disciplining them," he said. "I'm doing it now anyway."

Dunphy said he gets regular complaints about his drivers. But he said he rarely has to resort to suspending a driver.

"A lot of times [the complainant is] wrong. They just don't know the rules."

Dunphy also said there's a surge in complaints after every fare hike – the last one was May 1 – that typically dies off after about two months.

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