Canada

Consultations start today on Toronto's vehicle-for-hire bylaw, but does the public care?

The bylaw has been a source of controversy since council's 2016 decision to shelve safety training for both taxis and ride-share drivers — a move that came amid heated regulatory discussions surrounding leading ride-share app Uber.

Bylaw includes regulations for taxicabs, limos, ride-sharing apps like Uber, Lyft

The bylaw has been a source of controversy since council's 2016 decision to shelve safety training for both taxis and ride-share drivers — a move which came amid heated regulatory discussions surrounding leading ride-share app Uber. (The Canadian Press)

The city is launching a second series of consultations on Toronto's vehicle-for-hire bylaw on Monday, but some driver training advocates are questioning the level of public engagement to date.

The bylaw, which includes regulations for taxicabs, limos, and ride-sharing apps, has been a source of controversy since council's 2016 decision to shelve safety training for both taxis and ride-share drivers — a move that came amid heated regulatory discussions surrounding leading ride-share app Uber.

In separate statements, spokespeople for both Uber and its main rival, Lyft, highlighted their companies' focus on safety during the latest round of consultations.

Cheryl Hawkes, whose 28-year-old son Nicholas Cameron was killed when the Uber he was riding in was hit by another vehicle last March, is pushing for safety as well — and to her, that means having driver training across the board.

"What I want to see, at a minimum, is there's some time that a driver — before they hit the road taking money to transport the public — that there's some time spent in a car, with a driving instructor," she said.

She also questioned the city's efforts to engage the community in last fall's round of public consultations. 

"There wasn't enough publicity about them the first time," she said.

In one session she attended last year, Hawkes recalled less than six community members in the room.

Beck Taxi operations manager Kristine Hubbard — also a vocal backer of driver training — echoed those concerns.

'A lot of empty rooms'

"I went to a lot of empty rooms," she said. "That was disappointing ... For the most part, people didn't know this consultation was happening."

According to city staff, the latest round of consultations is being promoted through the city's website and social media feeds, news releases, newspaper advertisements, and information sent to local community groups and vehicle-for-hire companies.

The previous round did bring out more than 200 attendees, noted spokesperson Lyne Kyle, while the city has also received around 100 feedback submissions online.

The city is also meeting with industry experts and conducting third-party public opinion research, Kyle said in an email.

Report goes to committee in June

"Feedback from all of these initiatives will be used to inform updates to the bylaw in a report going to the General Government and Licensing Committee in June," she wrote.

The upcoming consultations are each focused on a different area of the vehicle-for-hire bylaw:

  • Brokerages, Fleets and Garages: Monday, March 4, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Metro Hall, Room 308/309 (55 John Street).
  • General Public: Thursday, March 7, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Metro Hall, Room 308/309 (55 John Street).
  • Taxi Drivers: Monday, March 11, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Metro Hall, Room 308/309 (55 John Street)
  • PTC Companies: Tuesday, March 12, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Metro Hall, Room 308/309 (55 John Street).
  • PTC Drivers: Thursday, March 14, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Metro Hall, Room 308/309 (55 John Street).
  • Standard Taxi Owners: Friday, March 15, 2 to 4 p.m., Metro Hall, Room 308 (55 John Street).
  • Limousines: Monday, March 18, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., York Civic Centre, Council Chambers (2700 Eglinton Avenue West).
  • Accessibility: Monday, March 18, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., City Hall, Committee Room 2 (100 Queen Street West).
  • Toronto Taxicab Licences (TTL): Tuesday, March 19, 2 to 4 p.m., North York Civic Centre, Committee Room 3 (5100 Yonge Street).

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