Photo by Whitehorse Star
Bylaw manager Dave Pruden
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Bylaw manager Dave Pruden
Another review of the city’s Vehicle For Hire bylaw could soon be underway after a recommendation came forward that council approve consultation with stakeholders on the bylaw.
The proposal comes following a call in December from women’s groups for safer cabs.
Bylaw manager Dave Pruden presented the recommendation at Monday’s city council meeting. It highlighted the concerns that have come forward since the last set of amendments to the bylaw came into effect earlier this year.
They include requirements for cameras in the vehicles and services for people with disabilities in addition to changes that were made in 2015 requiring stricter criminal records checks for drivers.
As women’s groups told council in December, more needs to be done to keep passengers safe.
Among those would be:
• a requirement that the in-vehicle cameras be tamper-proof, with footage sent to the city every 24 hours;
• a public education campaign be created; and
• training be provided to drivers.
Pruden said issues from women’s and community groups came forward in October 2017 after a cab driver was charged with sexual assault against two passengers.
“Nov. 25, 2017 marked the kick-off of a 16-day international campaign to end gender-based violence,” Pruden said.
“On Dec. 4, the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, Les EssentiElles and the Yukon Women’s Coalition had delegates appear before council to speak about gender-based violence in Whitehorse.
“The delegations provided a list of recommendations to council that they believe will improve the safety of passengers in taxis operating in Whitehorse.”
The bylaw department continues to enforce the current regulations.
However, there are two charges pending against cab companies over cameras that weren’t operating recently.
Pruden said a further review of the bylaw and recommendations that came forward could provide greater passenger safety.
“The review would include researching industry standards and exploring the specifics of each of the recommendations and possible enactment that may lead to improved safety,” he said.
“During the review and exploration of the recommendations, bylaw services would engage local vehicle for hire companies, stakeholders and other levels of government to seek input on improvements to the safety of passengers in taxis.”
Among the possibilities for the bylaw could be:
• the tamper-proof cameras;
• mandating GPS data on the cameras;
• limiting the number of plates available to vehicle for hire companies;
• requiring a charter on the back of driver and passenger seats showing driver information and passengers’ rights;
• providing vehicle for hire drivers with training that’s focused on passenger safety and bylaw requirements; and
• regulating tamperproof driver permits.
Answering questions from council, Pruden said he’s already met with the RCMP and women’s groups about it.
He also plans meetings with other stakeholders if council moves ahead with the recommendation.
Pruden said he also envisions hosting an open house session with the taxi industry.
Much of the discussion among council Monday focused on the proposal for tamper-proof cameras.
Pruden said the tamper-proof cameras could cost anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000, compared to between $500 and $700 for the type of cameras most vehicles for hire have now.
He noted concerns from the industry over the cost of the camera came forward during the last round of amendments.
That was the reason the city put forward the requirement for the less expensive camera.
A local cab driver made a presentation to council later in the meeting.
He said the cheaper cameras can be hardwired into the cab, as he had done in his vehicle, and programmed to record whenever the vehicle is running.
As Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu pointed out though, in that case, once the vehicle is turned off, “illicit activities” could happen in the vehicle.
The cab driver also argued that GPS isn’t needed in a small community like Whitehorse.
However, another delegate told council that when she had visited Toronto, the GPS in the cabs she travelled in provided a reassurance that the cabs were being kept track of.
“It’s reassuring,” she said of seeing GPS technology in the cab.
Council will vote next week on whether to move forward with consultation for possible amendments to the bylaw.
Pruden said while much will depend on what comes out of the consultation, bylaw officials would aim to have any potential amendments come forward to council before June.
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