Cabbies will provide service to downtown bars
Meeting arranged, averting threat of no-service
A meeting has been set up between the mayor, police chief and Winnipeg cab companies to address concerns of the taxi industry, which was threatening to halt service to bars and nightclubs.
Earlier in the week Unicity Taxi and Duffy's Taxi, the two largest cab companies in the city, said they wanted to meet with police Chief Keith McCaskill and Mayor Sam Katz to discuss complaints that drivers have been harassed by police officers over parking issues at night.
Unicity president Gurmail Mangat told CBC News that if a meeting was not arranged by 2 p.m. CT Friday, taxis from both companies would stop accepting fares to and from downtown clubs and bars starting that evening.
Around the time of the deadline, it was learned that a meeting had been set for next Thursday.
Mangat said the cab companies will talk to the mayor and police chief about how the industry could use dedicated taxi stands near all sorts of businesses.
"We need all nightclubs, shopping malls, wherever possible," he said. "[With taxi stands] you don't have to call our office. You know our cabs are sitting over there you can walk over and use it."
Mayor Katz said he is happy to sit down with cab companies to discuss their concerns, but added he is not pleased with how the taxi industry handled the matter.
Earlier on Friday, before the meeting was confirmed, the mayor urged people to be safe and make alternate arrangements for a ride home, just in case service was disrupted.
"It's prudent upon anyone going to a bar … if they've decided to drink, to have a designated driver," Katz said.
Taxi drivers claim they are being harassed by officers when they are forced to double-park or stop in restricted areas to drop off customers at some downtown venues.
Mangat said in one case last weekend, a driver was allegedly insulted and manhandled by a police officer after he dropped off some bar patrons outside Whiskey Dix on Main Street.
The companies note that other jurisdictions, like Calgary, have special loading zones and bylaws for taxis outside downtown bars and restaurants.