The taxi industry was front and centre at London City Hall Tuesday.
One of the most controversial issues regarding the city’s vehicle-for-hire bylaw has been the proposal to remove the cap on the number of taxi licences allowed in the city.
Right now, the number of cabs allowed on city streets is regulated by the city, which issues one taxi licence for every 1,100 people.
Coun. Virginia Ridley has been an advocate for getting rid of the cap, but at council she instead suggested adding just 19 new licences, an increase of about 5.5 per cent. It would also mean the city would issue one taxi licence for every 1,050 people.
Coun. Jesse Helmer was in favour of the increase and said the purpose of the bylaw is public safety and consumer protection.
“That’s why we’re regulating this industry in the first place,” he said.
“Through putting in the scarcity of the licences, we’ve created a situation where people are renting plates from other people. Obviously, the people who are renting would prefer to just own the plate themselves and not be in a situation where they have to rent from somebody else in order to work,” said Helmer.
That amendment failed in a 7-7 vote.
Councillors decided to refer the issue back to staff, directing them to — once again — talk to the taxi industry.
Coun. Phil Squire wasn’t in favour of increasing the cap just yet but did say it wouldn’t be around forever.
“There is going to come a time when there will be no cap on taxi licences,” he said, addressing the cab owners in the public gallery.
“It will happen. You should start getting ready for it because it’s going to happen,”
“How it happens, I don’t know. In my opinion, it should not happen immediately and it should not happen today. What I think you should do is take this referral, go talk to administration and make a deal,” said Squire.
“Work something out that you can live with,” he said.
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Changes such as reducing fees for taxi drivers and owners, adding 10 accessible taxi licences in the city, and a proposal asking staff to report back on incentives to help encourage more drivers to invest in accessible vehicles, all passed unanimously.
Other issues, including deregulating fares, allowing vehicles up to 10 years old, and removing the requirement for in-cab cameras were also passed.
A proposal put forward by Coun. Michael van Holst that staff look at options for compensating the taxi industry to deal with the loss in value of transferable plates failed 5-9.
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