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New bylaws in the works for city taxis

Cold Lake City Council will be taking a closer look at their bylaws for taxis, to see if new and updated rules are needed.
The City of Cold Lake will renew previous regulation bylaws passed in 1999.
The City of Cold Lake will renew previous regulation bylaws passed in 1999.

Cold Lake City Council will be taking a closer look at their bylaws for taxis, to see if new and updated rules are needed.

“What administration rose in the discussion with council is a review of the taxi bylaw at this time and how to see taxis are being regulated at this point,” said CAO Kevin Nagoya.

He added, “You look at some of these old bylaws and say ‘gee, it was passed in 1998'. We want to look at the age of them and see how it's being regulated today – is it appropriate? Do we need to change some of the language? It's based on provincial regulations or things that are happening in the community.”

The City of Cold Lake has been regulating the operation of taxicabs under a bylaw passed in 1999, and three subsequent amending bylaws. Municipal enforcement officers, as well as staff from planning and development services are in the process of reviewing the bylaw and proposing amendments. The goal is to make the service safer and a monetarily fair option for the residents of Cold Lake.

During the review, there has been some discussion on whether more significant changes are necessary at this time. Some of the changes being considered are a method of enforcing the mechanical inspections for the vehicles, requiring properly functioning metres to be installed, and giving the Taxi Driver Permit reissuance a 24-month extension for an additional cost.

“I've talked about this off and on, that we need some kind of taxi commission. I think you see and hear enough of either infighting between companies, people feeling like they have been ripped off or been in an unsafe cab,” said Coun. Chris Vining.

Referencing a personal experience, Vining noted that rather than metreing they could require all cabs have a map of the city with their fares set out by distance, or something similar.

“It does need to be a fixed, regulated, fair service. I'm not sure if metreing in Cold Lake is necessary. Cab companies are experiencing hard times like everybody, I don't want to add another capital cost for them.”

Now that the issue has been raised to council, the next step for city administration is to enter into discussions with the taxi industry to get their perspective on the matter – what their challenges are, if they feel there needs to be more or less regulations, etc.

“I would like to hear from cab companies. What are their stats: the number of cabs, the number of companies, what's the demand like in the city?” asked Coun. Kelvin Plain. “I don't want to use the word Uber, but what does it look like going forward? In four to five years, there could be conversations about whether we should allow Uber in the city.”

Coun. Bob Buckle added, “I think we need to (require) a visible permit and visible safety inspection, that's a start...I do think we need to sit down with industry.”

City administration will be moving forward with conversations with local taxi companies. The matter will be back before city council at a future meeting for further discussion.