Nova Scotia

Halifax taxi driver calls for dash cameras in cabs

Change to the Halifax bylaw would take months and one driver says there is still push back from drivers and even passengers.

'We will be pushing for it and hopefully it goes up the chain of command,' says Terry Morier

Terry Morier, a veteran taxi driver in Halifax, uses a dash cam in his vehicle. (CBC)

Another alleged assault in a Halifax taxi is once again raising the call to make dashboard cameras a requirement.

The latest incident happened Sunday night on Leamon Drive in Dartmouth. Police said the male driver touched the victim in a sexual manner over her clothes without her consent.

Halifax Regional Police Const. Alicia Joseph said the number of sexual assault allegations involving cabs has risen from two in 2012, to four so far in 2016. 

Helpful with investigations

She says dashboard cameras could really help police with their investigations.

"It would be evidence we could seize and use with regard to any type of offence," she said.

A veteran taxi driver and member of the Municipal Taxi and Limousine Liaison Group says it is time for all taxis in the Halifax Regional Municipality to have dashboard cameras, and the group will bring it up at the next meeting.

'We will be pushing for it'

Terry Morier says the cameras in his vehicle are there to both protect himself and passengers. (CBC)

"We will be pushing for it and hopefully it goes up the chain of command with transport and then city council," said Terry Morier, who has been driving a taxi for 25 years.

Morier himself records every ride in his accessible van and keeps the files for about a week. He bought and installed a dash cam himself that records both inside and out of the car. It cost $300 out of his pocket — but he says it's worth every penny.

"Drivers go through a lot," said Morier.

Some drivers 'reluctant' 

"There are on road hazards from other vehicles. There are claims from passengers that may not be warranted."

He says he has seen more and more drivers purchase cameras themselves over the last six months, but he estimates the number is still only around 10 per cent of all taxis.

"Some drivers may not have a high income and are reluctant to spend money, or feel they shouldn't have to."

Research needed, says municipality

If there is an amendment to the bylaw that regulates the taxi industry, it's not clear if drivers or owners would be responsible for paying for camera.

Recommendations would have to be presented and studied, according to municipal spokesperson Tiffany Chase.

"Staff could go away and do some research and look at what other jurisdictions are doing in terms of those kinds of safety measures," she said.

Bylaw change could take months

"If council decided to proceed with an amendment there would be stakeholder consultation, consultation with industry and opportunity for public consultation as well."

Still, Chase says any change to the bylaw would take months.

Issue last brought forward in 2006

Chase said the last time the issue was brought forward at the council level was in an information report from Oct. 3, 2006.

It was organized by the Taxi and Limousine Advisory Committee that was disbanded in 2011.

Then, the focus was on keeping taxi drivers safe from passengers, instead of the other way around.

'This is for their protection and mine'

According to the 2006 report to city council, 74.9 per cent of the owners and drivers polled voted against surveillance cameras and the issue was not raised again.

Ninety-one per cent of respondents said they would require financial assistance to purchase and install the equipment if it became mandatory.

Terry Morier says times have changed. He says the dash cam is important for all his passengers, especially young females travelling alone. But he still sometimes hears push back, especially over privacy concerns.

His counter-argument is that "there are lots of areas out in the public that are filmed continuously that [people] have no control over."

"This for their protection and mine."