Whitehorse Daily Star

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Bylaw manager Dave Pruden

Vehicle For Hire bylaw may be altered

Another review of the city’s Vehicle For Hire bylaw could soon be underway a

By Stephanie Waddell on January 23, 2018

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.

Comments (10)

Up 1 Down 0

woodcutter on Jan 27, 2018 at 10:37 am

My friend got into a cab drunk and lost his phone. In the morning he called the dispatch to inquire and was told to F@#k off and was hung up on. Driver denied seeing phone, however with a camera we could be sure.

Up 3 Down 1

Yukoner too on Jan 26, 2018 at 8:48 am

Fine them according to the taxi bylaw. No excuse to not enforce it.
If the taxi drivers/owners have nothing to hide, why would they turn it off??? Oh, right.....

Up 6 Down 0

Uber on Jan 25, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Just let us bring Uber to this city! I took Uber all over Ontario recently and it was amazing! Friendly drivers and clean, newer cars. Not to mention, a bit cheaper then a cab. Get with the times!

Up 3 Down 3

Max Mack on Jan 25, 2018 at 11:15 am

Coming soon to a Whitehorse near you . . . $40 cab ride from downtown to the airport - before tip. These ever-more-costly "safety" measures will only further damage an industry that has been struggling to stay on its feet.

It's a "good thing" there are so many immigrants willing to work as taxi drivers for next-to-nothing, otherwise many taxi operators would simply go out of business.

CoW has lost its bearings on taxis. What's next? Free, escorted cab rides for women so they feel safe?

Up 3 Down 1

woodcutter on Jan 25, 2018 at 9:33 am

Maybe with this system, law enforcement folks can see where the cabs repeatedly go at 4 a.m.?

Up 3 Down 0

Yukoner on Jan 24, 2018 at 6:11 pm

I would never take a cab if i knew the government got video of every cab ride. Footage should be reserved for investigation purposes.

Up 5 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Jan 24, 2018 at 11:07 am

Fine with the cameras but the footage should stay sealed unless viewing is required to investigate a legitimate complaint which would require a search warrant.

Up 4 Down 2

Concerned about our community on Jan 23, 2018 at 9:41 pm

GPS and 24 hour surveillance with film submitted to the government every 24 hours. What is the problem with that? Sounds like it would make a LOT of sense for everyone concerned, including the cabbies. Hopefully it could all be automated and tamper proof so there is very little work involved. And I would approve as a tax payer that my money be spent on this so the cab companies are not on the hook. I don't even take cabs, but I am really, really angry about what has gone on. Women are being assaulted and who knows what the H else is going on.

As usual, it's the very few bad who need to be stamped out, so let's work together and do it! Do not lighten up on this or let the issue die off. Thank you!

Up 4 Down 0

Anonymous on Jan 23, 2018 at 6:35 pm

I for one am so glad these precautions are being taken. A few years ago, my early 20's daughter was taking a cab from visiting with a few friends. The cab driver knew her name and started asking about her personal life. Then he drove her to a bus turn around where she did not know where she was. She was texting us at the time. He started grabbing her legs and trying to kiss her very aggressively. My daughter was very scared but luckily I called her when this was happening. She immediately told the driver that people were waiting for her. When she stated that her family knew which cab she was in, he drove her home. He turned off his car at that one stop, so even if he had one of those cameras it would not have proven she was being victimized. Whitehorse is not such a small town that these things do not happen. Do not fool yourself.

Up 4 Down 1

Wolf on Jan 23, 2018 at 3:20 pm

They should also stop cabbies from using city streets and private parking lots and short and long term storage for their cabs for days or weeks at at time.

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