Iqaluit taxi drivers complain of more rock-throwing incidents
Drivers protested last September when similar incidents were occurring
Complaints are being heard again of young Iqalummiut hurling rocks at taxis, the city reported in a release Friday.
It warned the incidents are “extremely dangerous” as a safety risk for drivers or others around the vehicle, and can cause damage to the vehicles themselves.
“We don’t want any of our drivers, passengers or bystanders to get hurt because of this [rock throwing],” said Caribou Tuktu Cabs administrator Ronnie McGregor.
He said taxi drivers have shot videos of the rock-throwing incidents.
To support the company’s drivers, McGregor said, he contacted the city for help with the situation, which prompted the warning.
The latest complaints come approximately eight months after drivers stopped running their taxis for more than an hour on a Saturday night in late September to protest rocks being thrown at them.
Days later, taxi driver Daniel Frezhi told Nunatsiaq News he had to pay $1,500 to replace his windshield the year before after it was hit by rocks. He said wine bottles had also been thrown at him on the job.
After the protest, a meeting between the taxi companies, the city, RCMP and justice department was held to find ways to stop the rock throwing.
Mayor Kenny Bell told Nunatsiaq News then that he believed the main reason youths were throwing rocks was they didn’t have enough to do.
Iqaluit’s public safety committee also discussed methods to prevent rock throwing and racism toward taxi drivers at around the same time.
After the protest, McGregor said Bell and RCMP officers talked to parents of those who had been identified throwing rocks, and that helped alleviate the problem.
But with drivers again reporting rocks being thrown at them, McGregor said he wished he had a solution.
He suggested parents talk to their children about the dangers of rock throwing, as well as a public awareness campaign, as two possibilities.
The city’s release stated taxis are the main method of public transportation so throwing rocks at them affects not only the drivers, but also the safety of passengers and anyone near the vehicle.
“It affects everybody here in the community,” McGregor said.
Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, an option for RCMP —beyond issuing a warning to young rock throwers — is to refer them to programs aimed at preventing dangerous acts of vandalism, RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Pauline Melanson said.
In the most recent incidents, no one was injured and there was no significant damage to cars, McGregor said.
“But if this keeps going, it’s just a matter of time before something worse will happen,” he said. “And that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”
The City of Iqaluit did not respond to Nunatsiaq News’ request for an interview.