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HomeNewsCity council to look at de-regulating taxis

City council to look at de-regulating taxis

Lethbridge city council will look at deregulating the taxi industry in the municipality. A motion to recommend increasing the maximum allowable rates for taxi rides and wait time was defeated at the city’s safety standing policy committee on March 9. 

A new motion was brought forward by Councillor Ryan Parker to make bylaw amendments to remove regulation of taxi fares and the requirement of having a metre device. It would also remove the requirement for a top light on taxis.

The motion carried unanimously and will be sent as a recommendation to city council to be considered for final approval.

“Taxi commissions, taxi rates, all that kind of stuff, they did have their place in history 40 or 50 years ago and sometimes they do have their place in certain communities but in the city of Lethbridge, where I believe first of all we are a very progressive community — we are over 100,000 people and I think there is a time for us to change how we do things,” Parker said. “Less government is better in situations like this.”

Councillor Mark Campbell asked city administration, as well as a representative from the taxi industry, what the worst case scenario could look like if the change is approved. 

BACKGROUND: Maximum fare rates, taxi regulations up for debate at Lethbridge council

Duane Ens, general manager of regulatory services, said his biggest concern would be people from outside the community being overcharged.

“I trust that there won’t be issues where a $100 fee will happen [to people] picked up at the airport because those people won’t be in business very long. I think people that are successful will be doing things in an ethical way,” Parker said.

Michael Arend is co-owner of two taxi companies in the city and said he believes the amendment would open the market to more competition. “I think that there should be some sort of a stipulation that a device of some sort, be it an app program, a taxi metre installed in the unit and set to a certain price and perhaps maybe even sealed,” he said. “If we have an independent coming in, we can be assured that at least it’s going to be this price and it’s not getting switched for another trip.”

Currently taxi companies are required to post the maximum rate on a window sticker, but if the amendment passes this will no longer be the case. Last time the conversation was in front of the standing policy committee, in February, Ens pointed out that most cities regulate the taxi industry. He added Red Deer is an exception and in speaking with representatives from the city, Ens’ staff learned the system is not working well.

The bylaw amendment has to be approved by council as a whole before taking effect.

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