Thunder Bay taxi bylaw causes concern for council, taxi companies

Thunder Bay's taxi companies are concerned about the changes proposed by a new taxi bylaw in the city.

Bylaw could come back to council by May 29

Dennis LeBeau is the General Manager of Roach's Taxi. He agrees more taxis are needed on the road, but he believes an open market for cabs is not the best way to go. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Thunder Bay's taxi companies are concerned about the changes proposed by a new taxi bylaw in the city.

Dennis LeBeau, the General Manager of Roach's Taxi said while he welcomes competition, an unlimited number of taxi licences is not the best way to proceed.

LeBeau made the comments at Thunder Bay city council on Monday night.

The city has been re-writing its taxi bylaw for the past five years.

"If people want to buy taxi licences and work six hours a day, seven hours a day, it's going to resolve nothing during the night," he said. "Yes, there are wait times, and yes, honestly, we could use help. There's no question about it."

LeBeau said he spoke with the owners of Diamond Lacey's taxi, Thunder Bay's other taxi company, and they also shared similar concerns.
Diamond Lacey's Taxi is one of the two taxi companies in Thunder Bay. They hold 44 licences, with the other 44 held by Roach's Taxi. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

He said finding drivers is a constant challenge for the two taxi operators in the city. 

"It's tough out there," he said. LeBeau mentioned some drivers get assaulted, spat on, robbed, and some have also been injured on the job.

Many on council agreed that some of the changes proposed could use a bit more work, before being passed.

"We could potentially end up destroying something that already exists," said Coun. Paul Pugh. "Operators who come in who will cherry pick the hours of work they wish, the type of vehicle they're going to provide."

The other main concern, LeBeau said, was the requirement for only large companies to have accessible vehicles. He said that burden should not only be passed onto large companies. 

"Accessible vehicles cost three times as much as a regular taxicab. And, we absorb that cost as a cost of doing business. We absorb that fare whether it's a wheelchair van or its not."

"We participate heavily into it, we exceed our licenses. Where the two taxi companies here were required to carry eight licences, we carry sixteen."

LeBeau said he hopes the city will consider some of the issues he raised, and will re-write the bylaw before it is fully passed.

Administration aims to have the revised draft ready for the  May 29 council meeting.


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