Toronto taxi drivers chided Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong at city hall Tuesday as committee members contemplated changes to the city's multi-tiered taxi industry.
The angry drivers, most with so-called Ambassador licences, want the licensing structure changed to allow them to convert their permits to the more lucrative standard licence.
They confronted Minnan-Wong outside a Toronto committee meeting that began debating changes to the requirements.
Under the Ambassador licence, which Minnan-Wong had a hand in creating a decade ago, drivers own their cars and pay a small licence fee to the city.
There are some 1,500 taxis on the road in Toronto with the Ambassador designation.
"It's hard to make the business…You have to put more hours on it to work and make a living," said driver Hamdi Rahimzay.
Up until the late 1990s, the city handed out standard licence plates for taxis. They could be bought, sold and traded with other drivers.
But in 1999, the city changed the rules. Anyone with a standard plate could keep them but all new drivers had to apply for Ambassador licences.
Minnan-Wong said it is unreasonable for the drivers to expect that their licences be converted.
There are about 3,500 drivers with the standard licence and Minnan-Wong estimates that the drivers can fetch upwards of $300,000 if they wished to sell one.
"What they want is — it's like the city writing them a cheque for $300,000 overnight," said Minnan-Wong.