Ottawa

Unifor Local 1688, an Ottawa taxi union, wants police to join crackdown on Uber

An Ottawa taxi drivers union is asking police to join the crackdown on Uber ridesharing and other bandit cab services.

'Our people are very angry,' Unifor Local 1688 president says

An Ottawa taxi drivers union is asking police to join the crackdown on Uber ridesharing and other bandit cab services.

The city's bylaw department has issued dozens of fines against unlicensed drivers, but Unifor Local 1688 president Amrik Singh said it's not enough.

Amrik Singh, who heads the union representing 1,800 licensed taxi drivers in Ottawa, says taxi drivers are hoping police will help crack down on unlicensed cabs. (Stu Mills/CBC)
Under the Highway Traffic Act, police can levy much stiffer penalties against unlicensed taxis.

But police resources are limited, and while the city's bylaw department can, and occasionally does request assistance, politicians can't direct police to join the crackdown.

"Our membership is very worried, very frustrated. We want the city to do more to stop these bandit cabs," Singh said after meeting Monday morning with Mayor Jim Watson and other city officials, coinciding with a similar meeting in Toronto.

"Our people are very angry. ... They see that somebody is taking food away from their mouth, or their children's mouths, and the authorities have to do more."

'We don't want the wild west,' mayor says

For now, Watson said there are no promises of police reinforcements in the battle against bandit cabs.

He's hopeful a pair of private members bills giving bylaw officers authority to issue fines under the Highway Traffic Act — with demerit points, and insurance implications for unlicensed drivers — will succeed.

"We don't want the wild west. We want some control and some respect of the law in the country," Watson said.

"It's eating into their livelihood ... and they want to make sure we have a level playing field, and I want to make sure they have a level playing field."

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