Whitehorse cabbies fume over proposed rules

Some Whitehorse taxi operators say new city rules being proposed for their business are too unreasonable and costly.

Some Whitehorse taxi operators say new city rules being drafted for their business are too unreasonable and costly.

Concerned operators are objecting to a draft bylaw that proposes, among other things, banning taxi drivers from using their cellphones on the road and raising operators' liability coverage from $1 million to $3 million.

About half a dozen members of the city's taxi industry appeared before city council Monday night to oppose the draft bylaw, which is being put out for public consultation.

"Every one of us, we have no confidence in the bylaw department [and] the ability to be objective and impartial," Ken Giam, owner of Premier Cabs, told council during the meeting.

Giam said his company is the largest taxi company in Whitehorse, but he had never been consulted about the bylaw.

'We'd park the cars': driver

He and other operators called for the current draft bylaw to be thrown out, and the city to start again with an outside consultant.

"We don't want to go on strike," said Ron Pumphrey, a driver with Quality Cabs. "If something like this was put in front of us, we'd park the cars."

Pumphrey added that some of the taxi companies that were consulted on the bylaw a year ago have since gone out of business and were replaced by new companies that provide better service.

But taxi operators cannot survive under the rules being proposed by the city, Pumphrey said.

While some councillors said they took issue with some parts of the proposed bylaw, they said it's a starting point for further discussion. Council voted to put the draft out for public consultation.

"By sending it to the public, and by giving it to the taxi owners and drivers themselves for their comments, we'll get some good ideas and perhaps we'll be able to come up with a bylaw that's reasonably good for all those concerned," Coun. Doug Graham said.

Graham suggested that the city hold a special meeting with taxi operators to try to work out some of the differences between them.