Council committee votes to scrap Calgary's taxi advisory body

City councillors have voted in favour of disbanding the city's taxi industry advisory committee.

Councillors hear that livery transport advisory committee 'pretty much dwindled to a waste of time'

The city's taxi committee could soon be disbanded.

City council ordered a review last year of the governance model and terms of reference for the Livery Transport Advisory Committee (LTAC). The 18-member body is made up of members of the taxi, limousine, ride-hailing services, and tourism and hospitality sectors as well as public representatives.

The consultant's report, which was was brought before a council committee on Wednesday, concluded that the taxi committee has outlived its usefulness.

The report says administration could disband the body and instead assume direct responsibility for consulting with stakeholders and then advise city council.

Councillors on the committee accepted the recommendation.

'Dwindled to a waste of time'

Kurt Enders, president of Checker Yellow Cabs, said there was frustration that the taxi committee would often make recommendations to city council only to see its guidance ignored.

"Council still would not take the advice when you've got a pretty much 100-per cent support across the board. So, over the last three to four years, it's pretty much dwindled to a waste of time," said Enders.

He said he favours a system where industry representatives could meet with officials from the city's livery transport services department on a quarterly basis to discuss issues.

Coun. George Chahal said he heard from taxi drivers over the election campaign that they, too, see no point in the taxi committee continuing to operate.

"There's a number of meetings, and drivers don't show up. And why don't they show up is the question we need to ask. They don't show up because they feel their voice isn't heard," said Chahal.

Disabled community has concerns

Members of the city's disabled community told the council committee that they fear disbanding the group will diminish their efforts to improve accessible taxi services.

A member of the Advisory Committee on Accessibility, Jack Smart, said he has seen improvements for on-demand service since he joined LTAC.

But he fears losing the committee will remove an important venue to talk about taxi service problems and community needs will be forgotten at city hall. 

"People with disabilities are already trying to climb up a hill to reach the same service levels as regular taxi service. So by eliminating LTAC, I think you are only adding to the size of that hill," said Smart.

Council will vote on issue

City council will discuss later this month whether to disband the committee.

If it does, the committee will cease to exist at the end of this year.

Administration says that will save $74,000 in direct costs, but there may be additional savings within the livery transport services department, which enforces rules for the industry.

Not having a committee to advise council on the local livery industry would not make Calgary unique among the major Canadian cities.

The consultant's report found that Winnipeg doesn't have one, Toronto folded its committee last year, and while Edmonton and Ottawa have them, they are not currently active.