Whitehorse Daily Star

Proposed fines address taxi security issues

City administration has put forward a schedule of fines directed at taxi cabs that do not adhere to the rules around mandated audio recordings in their vehicles.

By Chuck Tobin on January 27, 2023

City administration has put forward a schedule of fines directed at taxi cabs that do not adhere to the rules around mandated audio recordings in their vehicles.

The administrative report prepared for council’s meeting on Monday notes the audio recordings were made mandatory in December as part of amendments to the Vehicle for Hire bylaw.

The proposed amendments to the bylaw include a provision to make it an offence for any person to temporarily shut off, delete or tamper with recordings.

The administrative report presented by Kyle Morrison, manager of bylaw services, says taxi companies must retain the audio recordings for seven days.

“In a meeting with the taxi companies, it was noted that increasing the retention period will have an impact on the industry as current systems do not possess capabilities for lengthy retention time,” says the report.

“This change will require companies to purchase a new camera system with an anticipated cost of approximately $600 to $1,000 per camera.”

Adopting the proposed changes with the provision of first and second offence charges would increase enforcement options and possibly reduce court time if a higher fine amount is deemed appropriate, says the report.

It says the proposed changes will provide better enforcement capabilities and are intended to serve as stronger deterrents.

Currently, for instance, the fine for failing to record images or audio, or deleting images or audio, is $2,500.

Under the new proposed fine schedule, the fine would remain at $2,500 for the first offence but rise to $5,000 for a second offence.

Administration is recommending that council direct a bylaw to amend the Vehicle for Hire bylaw be brought forward for consideration under the bylaw process.

The report says if council does not adopt the schedule of fines, that the bylaw be amended to “expressly prohibit audio recordings in all taxis.”

Drivers would be prohibited from accessing the camera footage and audio, under the bylaw.

The report notes access to the recordings would be limited to company owners strictly for the purpose of resolving customer complaints, and to the city for legal and insurance purposes.

Providing images or audio to anyone other than a designated officer would carry a fine of $2,500, as it is now. The fine for a second offence under the amendments would be $5,000, says the report.

The proposed list of infractions and the associated fines are as follow:

  • New vehicle for hire added to the fleet without a security camera – currently set at $100 – would increase to $500;

  • Security camera not approved – fine would rise from $100 to $500;

  • Security camera not properly mounted to taxi – fine would climb from $100 to $500;

  • Security camera not recording images or audio at all times the fare is in the vehicle – fine would remain at $2,500 for first offence but be hiked to $5,000 for second offence;

  • Security camera not hardwired into taxi – fine would remain at $2,500 for first offence but be boosted to $5,000 for second offence;

  • Failure to retain or produce security camera images of audio – fine would remain at $2,500 for first offence but increase to $5,000 for second offence;

  • Failing to capture images or audio with security camera – fine would remain at $2,500 for first offence but increase to $5,000 for second offence;

  • Failure to record images or audio or remove or delete images and audio – fine would remain at $2,500 for first offence but rise to $5,000 for second offence; and

  • Provide images or audio from security camera to anyone other than a designated officer – fine would remain at $2,500 for first offence but climb to $5,000 for second offence.

Comments (9)

Up 6 Down 4

areallthewhinersmen? on Jan 31, 2023 at 10:15 am

This would make me more likely to actually take a cab in Whitehorse. Growing up with friends who've suffered the consequences of trusting cabs in this city... I'd rather hitch hike or bike or even walk than take a cab. Surveillance, and a price increase are much less hazardous to my health than the alternative.

Up 7 Down 5

CJ2 on Jan 30, 2023 at 11:04 am

Why aren't cab owners protesting this? Of course, the privacy commissioner is virtually useless.

Between threatening the public transit system schedule and onerous regulations for taxis that are intrusive to passengers as well as drivers, the city seems determined to create conditions that make having your own vehicle a heavenly alternative. Need I say this doesn't align with their rhetoric.

I never thought Uber would be the answer, but they might have the muscle to effectively counter the rationale behind this proposal. Cab companies here are simply too busy trying to keep their companies above water.

Up 25 Down 1

John - with a J on Jan 29, 2023 at 7:58 am

I love this. Some stupid politician that voted this idea in is going to get caught on recording asking some cab driver where he can get a hooker. This will be a spectacular scandal. Can’t wait.

Up 16 Down 0

TheHammer on Jan 28, 2023 at 6:51 pm

A criminal record for offenders is the answer. You don’t want to play by the rules, you don’t get to play.

Up 13 Down 5

Sum Ting Wong on Jan 28, 2023 at 6:24 pm

In Switzerland shop owners have to have a camera installed inside their businesses and are forbidden to sell products to the customer standing right in front of them after business hours in their own businesses, suffering heavy fines should they choose to disobey.

Cameras are becoming ubiquitous and there are some advantages, such as in apprehending felons and carpet-baggers, drug pushers and other ne'er do-wells.
Perhaps we'll even have the luxury some day of viewing an intoxicated premier or mla making a barnyard animal of himself as he gets transported home in a cab from a late evening drinking session, who knows?

The issue is the expense to the owners of the cab companies, in addition to the already onerous licensing requirements which will further jack the rates we pay.

It's absolutely clear at this point that there will be no stopping this slow march to gov control of our every waking moment until individuals begin to get the picture, and rise up to defend those in business who are being nit-picked to death but petty and vindictive new legislations.

It's simple enough if you are the bullying type, and hold public office, to introduce rules and restrictions and fees that have no effect whatsoever on your own income or life generally I suppose, justifying it all in the name of public safety, but this is not the Yukon I've spent so much of my life in, and that is for sure and for certain.

Up 18 Down 8

Monkey Business on Jan 28, 2023 at 2:04 pm

Dear Max Mack on Jan 27, 2023 at 4:34 pm:

Trudeau has told everyone that the L-NDP vision and intent is to make life more difficult for “you” so that others may more equitably join in the benefits of a global society.
Your efforts and achievements mean nothing… This is quite apparent in the education system and in the government as matters of routine operations. The better you are at your job the more likely you are to be targeted for harassment by others in a government workplace.

The government’s policy direction is the parable of the 5 Monkeys:
“Have you ever heard the story of the 5 Monkeys Experiment? It may sound familiar when you think of your organizational culture. It goes like this:

5 monkeys were placed in a cage as part of an experiment. In the middle of the cage was a ladder with bananas on the top rung. Every time a monkey tried to climb the ladder, the experimenter sprayed all of the monkeys with icy water. Eventually, each time a monkey started to climb the ladder, the other ones pulled him off and beat him up so they could avoid the icy spray. Soon, no monkey dared go up the ladder.

The experimenter then substituted one of the monkeys in the cage with a new monkey. The first thing the new monkey did was try to climb the ladder to reach the bananas. After several beatings, the new monkey learned the social norm. He never knew “why” the other monkeys wouldn’t let him go for the bananas because he had never been sprayed with ice water, but he quickly learned that this behaviour would not be tolerated by the other monkeys.

One by one, each of the monkeys in the cage was substituted for a new monkey until none of the original group remained. Every time a new monkey went up the ladder, the rest of the group pulled him off, even those who had never been sprayed with the icy water.

By the end of the experiment, the 5 monkeys in the cage had learned to follow the rule (don’t go for the bananas), without any of them knowing the reason why (we’ll all get sprayed by icy water). If we could have asked the monkeys for their rationale behind not letting their cage mates climb the ladder, their answer would probably be: “I don’t know, that’s just how its always been done.”

Up 5 Down 4

Ima Peevdof on Jan 27, 2023 at 5:30 pm

Did we really need more proof that our dear leaders are watermelons? Green on the outside and communist red on the inside? Nearly every new piece of legislation appears to be designed to kill small businesses, presumably with the goal of impressing their great chairman in Ottawa and his great master overlord Klaus the Schwabian.

These people are floating so far above the clouds! They are like helium balloons released, just drifting away on the wind, leaving reality completely behind. They honestly believe the tax-base and hard-working productive people are no longer necessary to them.

"If something cannot go on, it won't" Yogi Bera

Up 32 Down 6

bonanzajoe on Jan 27, 2023 at 4:49 pm

With the kind of drivers we have today, it's a good idea.

Up 26 Down 14

Max Mack on Jan 27, 2023 at 4:34 pm

My constitutional and privacy rights are already impaired by the ridiculous requirements brought in by this city administration.

Costs for the taxi industry will definitely increase, as pointed out in the article. But, not only will every cab have to obtain at least 2 new cameras (1 front facing, 1 rear facing) per taxi to handle audio, but will have to pay for someone to hard-wire and install the cameras to the subjective standards of some bylaw officer. Then, there are the additional costs of purchasing and installing upgraded digital storage to handle a week's worth of audio and video -- along with some mechanism to protect against tampering.

All-in costs for each cab will be in the thousands of dollars.

These costs will be passed onto you and I, or drivers will take a hit as most are lease operators. Last time I took a cab, it was $36 for a 10 minute ride with a modest tip. What will it be now? $50? Or, does the cab industry survive on chits (mostly paid for by our tax dollars)?

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