The city is moving forward with making audio recordings mandatory in taxi cabs.
Video recordings are already mandatory, but audio is not.
The administrative report to council on Monday notes that a legal review has confirmed the city is empowered to enact bylaws for the safety, health, welfare and protection of people relating to the taxi business.
The city could legally require audio recording in taxis under the bylaw that would withstand potential court challenges related to the invasion of privacy.
The administrative report prepared for council says there is little precedent for mandatory audio in Canada.
Currently, it says, Regina is the only jurisdiction that mandates audio recordings in taxis.
However, a majority of the existing camera systems installed in vehicles for hire, including those here in the city, possess audio recording capabilities.
The administrative report says as best practice, the city should consider protocols such as:
Informing the public that video surveillance is taking place in the taxi;
Store recorded images with limited access and delete them when they’re no longer required for business purposes;
Educate equipment operators on the obligation to protect the privacy of individuals;
Periodically re-evaluate the need for audio surveillance.
The administrative report says the provisions are easily implemented and can be monitored through the vehicle inspection processes.
Additional provisions under the vehicle for hire bylaw make it an offence for any person to temporarily shut off, delete or tamper with recordings and for an unauthorized person to view security camera footage.
Under the bylaw, the RCMP, bylaw officers and the owners of taxi companies are the only people who can view camera footage.
Access to security footage by company owners is strictly for the purposes of resolving customer complaints, says the administrative report.
There was some concern expressed Monday that the fines under the vehicle for hire bylaw are too low to be a disincentive.
Taxi companies are required to keep their recordings for seven days.
The initial fine for failing to install or maintain a functioning security camera is $100 for the first offence, $250 for the second and $2,500 for the third offence.
The fine for not recording images and audio at all times a passenger is in the vehicle is $2,500.
Providing access to recordings by unauthorized individuals also carries a fine of $2,500, as does failing to hardwire the security camera into the taxi.
Council is scheduled to vote next Monday on whether to bring forward a bylaw to amend the vehicle for hire bylaw.