July 2, 2018 7:40 pm
Updated: July 3, 2018 11:00 pm

Coquitlam woman forced to wait hours for wheelchair-accessible taxi on Canada Day

A Lower Mainland taxi company is under fire tonight for leaving a senior with a disability stranded this Canada Day. As John Hua reports this isn't the first time this company has faced criticism.

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As many in Coquitlam enjoyed Canada Day festivities and fireworks on Sunday, Merle Smith was sitting in her wheelchair underneath a tree, cold and soaked by rain.

The Coquitlam senior and longtime accessibility advocate said she called Bel-Air Taxi for an wheelchair-accessible cab just before 9 p.m. but it never arrived.

She said she made numerous failed calls to dispatch and was finally picked up, about three hours and two rain showers later.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said volunteer staff and first responders stayed with her as she waited.

WATCH: Strong reaction to story of senior stranded by taxi


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Stewart also waited with her for about an hour and was unable to call her a cab.

Both Smith and Stewart say the system is broken.

“Bel-Air Taxi, you’ve been granted licences for multiple wheelchair-accessible cabs; I know you don’t like using them, but this isn’t acceptable,” Stewart wrote in a Facebook post.

In a statement, the Ministry of Transportation said “the Passenger Transportation Branch is currently investigating this complaint to make sure appropriate steps are taken so this doesn’t happen again.”

Bel-Air Taxi was recently in the news after refusing to drive Love It or List It Vancouver host Jillian Harris, who is pregnant, from Port Moody to downtown Vancouver.

Global News reached out to Bel-Air for comment, but has not heard back.

On Tuesday, Stewart wrote in a Facebook post that he will meet with Bel-Air taxi officials on Wednesday.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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