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Taxi company hailing for new deal

By: Grant Burr

Posted: 02/21/2018 11:15 AM

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Steinbach city council will look at the issue of taxi regulation but offered a muted response to Steinbach Taxi's request to partner with the city in developing new regulations in response to provincial Bill 30, the Local Vehicles for Hire Act.

The Act comes into force on Feb. 28 and passes the responsibility of regulating the industry from the province to local municipalities.

Scott MacFadyen, who in the past has served as a spokesperson for the Winnipeg Taxi Coalition, led much of the presentation on behalf of Steinbach Taxi owner Paul Jauhal.

MacFadyen's main point was that licenses purchased under the previous agreement with the province should be honoured and maintained through a new municipal regulatory system.

"If there's an exchange of money, between a rider and a driver, it's a vehicle for hire," he said, criticizing ride sharing programs like Facebook ride groups.

"To walk away from the regulatory responsibility would be blatantly unfair to established business owners," he said.

Jauhal noted that a lot of value was placed on taxi cab licenses under the old framework, value his business would like to maintain.

The city's corporate services manager Rhona Dundas pointed out that the new act does not require municipalities outside of Winnipeg to establish a new system but does give them the authority if they wish.

"It sounds like this is a request to limit competition. Is that not the case?" asked Councillor Michael Zwaagstra, who quizzed the delegation if other local taxi services are seeking the same changes.

Norm Parent, who sold Steinbach Taxi to Jauhal in October 2016, has recently begun offering a new service in the area under the South-Man Taxi name.

"I think it's important to have as much in the way of services to the public as possible," Zwaagstra said following the meeting.

"We don't normally regulate in this way in the City of Steinbach. We don't put limits on the number of grocery stores, or restaurants, we don't put limits on most things because we recognize that more competition is a good thing," he said.

Mayor Chris Goertzen said administration will draft a report for council to review and consider further action. He said deregulation has shown to be beneficial in other industries and did not take issue with the province's move to pass this responsibility on to municipalities.

"The world is changing. We have technology that is changing and in the next five or ten years we're going to see more change, whether it’s driverless vehicles or other aspects of transportation. I think this will be an evolving issue and I think the government was right to look at this and see that the old system did need to have some adjustments."

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