Friday , 9 June 2023

Proposed taxi bylaw changes seek fare transparency

After reviewing the City of Cold Lake’s taxi bylaw and comparing it to those passed in other municipalities, City Council has asked administration to consider changes that would increase transparency of taxi fares for customers, and allow for better enforcement of infractions.

During discussion of the taxi bylaw review at the Corporate Priorities Committee meeting on February 15, Council asked that changes to the bylaw be made requiring taxis to clearly display the fares they charge.

“Council decided that we would not weigh in on regulating fares since we are a small community with few options for taxis,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “But we’ve heard that customers have been surprised by what they’ve been asked to pay, and so we’ve asked administration to add the requirement that taxi fares be clearly displayed so that each company’s fares are known and customers are not taken by surprise.”

Council also agreed with a proposal to increase fines for certain infractions to ensure greater compliance. The fine for operating a taxi without a business licence is proposed to increase to $1,000 from $100, the fine for operating a taxi without a mechanical inspection is proposed to increase to $500 from $100, and a fine of $250 plus the payment of the fare will be instituted for customers who attempt to evade a posted fare.

A review of the City’s taxi bylaw was identified as a priority during council’s strategic priorities session. Administration will consult with members of the local taxi industry prior to finalizing the proposed changes and bringing them back to Council for a final decision.

“Just like with any bylaw, it’s important to get the balance right here,” Copeland said. “We want these companies to be able to make money – if they can’t, then there will not be any taxi options for residents or visitors in our city. At the same time, we want to ensure that the vehicles are safe, they are being operated safely and that customers do not feel surprised by the price of the ride.”

Proposed changes to the bylaw include the requirement to affix a no-smoking sign to the vehicle, the requirement to clearly identify the vehicle as a taxi, taxi-specific licence plates to be displayed at the front of the vehicle as an additional means of identifying a compliant taxi, as well as the inclusion of naloxone kits – which are available for free – in addition to a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit in the vehicle.

Administration will seek written feedback from local taxi companies and continue to research similar bylaws in other communities before bringing a proposed, updated bylaw to Council for further debate and consideration.

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