Iqaluit council approves taxi fare increase

Fare hike had been postponed for the past two years due to COVID-19 pandemic

Joanasie Akumalik, seen in this file photo, has been charged with aggravated assault according to the Nunavut RCMP. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Iqaluit taxi fares are about to go up.

City council passed a bylaw at Tuesday’s council meeting that will see fares go from the current $8 rate to $9.25 in 2024. It’s meant to make up for two years of no increases, said Coun. Kyle Sheppard, who is also the taxi committee chairperson.

“What’s being proposed is to catch up for that lost time in recognition of the increased costs for fuel, insurance and other operating costs of our taxi industry,” he said.

The hikes will be staggered.

On May 1, the fare will rise to $8.75, then $9 the following year, and $9.25 the year after, according to the city’s taxi bylaw.

Taxis charge a standard base fare in Iqaluit that does not include a metered rate.

There are other changes to pricing coming: transporting an uncaged animal will cost the full $8.75, and passengers will pay an extra $2 if they have more than two pieces of luggage.

The fare for elders will remain $5 for now.

The increase had been planned to happen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Caribou Tuktu Cabs Inc. business administrator Ronnie MacGregor.

“The taxi industry was very patient, even going through COVID, that those increases were not happening,” he said. “This is kind of a [consolidation] of those yearly schedules.”

The city last raised taxi fare prices in 2019, to $8 from $7.

Councillors were scheduled to complete the first and second reading of the bylaw Tuesday, but Mayor Kenny Bell asked to add the third reading to the agenda during the meeting in order to pass the bylaw.

Every councillor voted in favour of the first two readings except for Coun. Simon Nattaq. The third reading passed unanimously.

Nattaq said he wants to see taxi drivers helping more elders.

“If the fare is going to increase, the cabbies should be willing to help with the [elders’] bags,” he said in Inuktitut, through an interpreter. “When I go into the cab, I want to be sure that I will be helped if I had heavy bags to carry.”

Coun. Joanasie Akumalik was in full support of raising the fares.

He said his car has been out of service since August, which has led him to take a taxi to work and back every day. He’s seen multiple incidents where cab drivers took people home and weren’t paid.

“I really felt sorry for that guy,” Akumalik said. “He’s trying to make a living, he has kids, children, he pays gas, permits and all that.”

In November, RCMP began investigating assault allegations after about 15 cab drivers and Iqalummiut gathered in the streets after a passenger allegedly hit a driver in the head with a beer can over the price of the trip.

Caribou Cabs owner Danny Savard said at the time he wanted council to make paying taxi fares upfront mandatory, so incidents like that don’t occur.

MacGregor, with Caribou Cabs, said the company still wants to see upfront payment mandatory.

As it stands, the bylaw states a cab driver has the option to require fare be paid before the ride happens.

Mandatory upfront payment would make rides safer because there would be no disagreements, there would be no allegations of discrimination about who has to pay first and who doesn’t, and passengers can’t flee from paying the tab, MacGregor said during the meeting.

City administration will review the fare increase schedule every three years, and the committee reviews it every five years.

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson said the city should be looking into another form of public transportation for people who can’t afford cab fares.

“Not to replace taxis by any means, but to compliment them in terms of options for people that may not necessarily need door-to-door service,” Stevenson said.

“And we may be able to flow people through our city in better ways.”

Bell said he wants to see some form of public transportation in place before his term is up.

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(22) Comments:

  1. Posted by 867 on

    People pay the taxi fare in Iqaluit? And here I was all this time thinking it was optional

  2. Posted by Chappy on

    How about joining the 21st century and give us the option to use a credit card or pay using your app. I literally have no other reason to use cash. I know its Nunavut, so it’s like 2007, but I know the tech exists.

    • Posted by Offensively Moderate on

      Not just cash… coins!

      Just like the Romans used to do!

      • Posted by Comment on

        Not everyone may know this, but credit card transactions cost businesses a percentage of the money they’re paid – not a lot per transaction around 2.5-4.0% but it adds up. Paying cash may seem anachronistic, but it really saves small businesses a lot of money in the long run

        • Posted by Chilly on

          They aren’t a small business. They are the only cab company and they are owned by a garage that has almost no real competition. They can handle the cost of doing business in 2022. I haven’t taken a cab in a couple of years only because I don’t carry cash. I can’t be the only one.

    • Posted by No app payment on

      Considering then numbe of times I have seen drivers pick up the someone else and drive off when I called through the app, I have to be against app payments.

      I have also seen them just make a call as completed and drive off when they went to the wrong door and no one was there in 10-30 seconds, on more then 1 occasion.

  3. Posted by 867 on

    In all seriously though, nobody wants to pay cash anymore. This company could go 100% digital, minus maybe for elders. Make people pay online using their credit card or a preloaded “caribou card” before the taxi even shows up. Get with the days instead of making more excuses.

  4. Posted by Iqaluitmiuta on

    Seriously how sad we should be able to tap & not always come up with enough change oh please

  5. Posted by People with disabilities advocate on

    “transporting an uncaged animal will cost the full $8.75” I am assuming this does not apply to service animals such as guide dogs for people who are visually impaired. Charging a fee for service animals would be consider discriminatory under Human Rights Laws. Does the City of Iqaluit bylaw clearly state this?
    “passengers will pay an extra $2 if they have more than two pieces of luggage” Again I am assuming this does not apply to wheelchairs and walkers as charging for these items would also be seen as discriminatory under Human Rights Laws. Does the City of Iqaluit bylaw clearly state this?
    Also the taxi bylaw should make it mandatory that taxi operators ensure there are wheelchair accessible taxi’s operating every day. Failing to accommodate people with disabilities is discrimination and it is also a contravention of Human Rights law.
    I think the City of Iqaluit needs to set up a person with disabilities advisory committee.

  6. Posted by Ragin Ronnie on

    How come Innuit don’t drive cabs? Just curious. All the drivers look to be from Montreal or somethun.

    • Posted by aska on

      Because the pay is lousy, the hours are long and it is hard, dangerous work with no benefits. Also, the whole town hates them and reports their every move on Facebook. Inuit have better options available to them. It is harder for other groups of people, like immigrants from another country, to get those kinds of jobs, so they often work at whatever they can get. It is a pretty crappy job. Yeah, there are some skeezy drivers, but for the most part drivers are people who are just getting by or trying to send money to their families. They are stealing jobs from exactly no one.

      • Posted by Uvanga on

        When i was in Nuuk, i was so proud to be serviced in inuktitut while on the cab. I for one would love to see more Inuktut speaking taxi drivers and some of the sourhrrns really do try and praise them for that. Inuit or not they should be servicing us in Inuktut. I or we do have the right as Inuit to be serviced in Inuktitut in this great Territory of Nunavut.

        • Posted by 867 on

          Nuuk is Nuuk. They are light years ahead of Iqaluit, with Greenland Inuit filling many jobs that most Nunavut Inuit dont want.

          Until Nunavut Inuit step up and start working the jobs that most Inuit dont want, like Northern Store, Post Office, Taxi, we will be stuck needing ‘southerners’ to fill the gaps.

  7. Posted by Eeeee on

    With the fares increased and then wanting it to become mandatory to pay first then the company should completely stop taking other passengers when they already have someone in the car

    • Posted by Putting this out there on

      Maybe there should be a per person rate or a full taxi rate. the $8 for one person. if you are fine picking others up. but if you have 4 people going from one place all to the same stop then only like $20 for the full taxi. just like if you have your family and lots of bags you can just claim the full taxi.

  8. Posted by Qikiqtaaummiu on

    city breaking its own by’law not good and hte group.There should be no increase until there is a public meeting for the people.If they pass the motion it is on hte citys fair they will pay the extra fee.Accordingto by’laws and in canada last time i noticed we are canada any increase should not go up until 15 year period of the action.What we need a local competition and more public sector transportation.We need new Council and Mayor visitors making decissions on local people-something not right here we need focus.

  9. Posted by Mosesi on

    Seems common sense is far…far from good, good from far.

  10. Posted by Iqalumiut on

    I’m okay with the fares going up, but they really need customer service training. If someone is going to Apex they give them a hard time. Like Apex isn’t that far. I also don’t know how many times I’ve seen people getting in and out of cabs at the airport and they don’t offer any help with bags to anyone. They also become dangerous drivers on the weekend nights, so many of them speed on the main roads. I also agree that they should be offering Debit or Credit.

  11. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Great! Now we are going to see disagreements and arguments when cabbies are stiffed the additional .75 and .25 cents. Seriously? You couldn’t have just rounded the increases up or down to nearest dollar?

  12. Posted by Why? on

    Why are we even still on a set fare? It’s the same price to hop in a cab to go down the street as it is to go all the way to Apex! That’s robbery for the short hops, and a massive discount for the long trips!

    Why aren’t we able to pay via credit card/phone? I barely keep cash on me – it was hard enough remembering to keep a $20 on hand from the machine, now we’re all going to have an odd accumulation of small change to deal with?

    Why also not just round it up? $9 this year, $10 2 years from now would be better, especially if sticking to cash!

    Why do so few of them help with bags? (Some cabbies are awesome, don’t get me wrong) but some don’t even get out of the car to open their own trunk.

    Why are there so few cabs? Especially at certain times of the day, it’s impossible to expect a cab within an hour.

    Maybe improve what all is wrong before you start Nickle and dime’ing us. $8.75, really. Well cabbies, if you’re helpful, you keep the extra $0.25, if not I’ll wait for you to track down the change.

  13. Posted by Umingmak on

    Life gets more and more expensive for Nunavummiut every day – all to benefit wealthy business-owners. Shameful. $9.25 for what, in most cases, is a 5 minute ride, usually with another person also sharing the ride? It’s insane. You can get 15 minute cab rides for the same price, with no unwanted guests, in Toronto or Vancouver!

  14. Posted by 59009 on

    What the city should be looking at is maybe having a busing service maybe twice a day that starts off at the two big groceries stores (NorthMart and The Market Place) and have them stop at pre-determined locations around town. Not a door-to-door service like Coun. Romyne Stevenson has mentioned.

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