PARRY SOUND – Parry Sound Taxi and town staff are going back to the bargaining table, again.
Tuesday night, council postponed a bylaw that would have denied the company’s request to amend the current bylaw regarding the issuing of temporary taxicab drivers licences.
At its August 14 council meeting, Parry Sound Taxi made a formal appeal to council, asking for full control of hiring procedures within its company.
It’s been just two years since the town stopped regulating taxi fares, allowing the company to set its own rates, however it still controls the issuing of taxicab drivers’ licences.
An amendment to its bylaw in February gave town staff the authority to grant temporary, 60-day licences while new, or existing, employees waited for a criminal reference check and/or a vulnerable screening, providing the individuals show receipts to prove the checks are forthcoming.
But the bylaw states the town “may” issue the temporary licence.
Parry Sound Taxi requested the removal of the word “may” from the bylaw; detail specific parameters for refusal of a licence, among other conditions.
In her report to council, town bylaw enforcement officer Tammy Purdy said the right to refuse a business licence is not necessarily because of a criminal record, it refers to past conduct of the individual.
“Municipalities’ licencing bylaws reason for refusal may vary – criminal record (in Huntsville) and past conduct (Gravenhurst and Barrie), it doesn’t mean one is better than another,” wrote Purdy in her report. “It is based on how much risk the municipality (is) willing to take – risk of a Charter (of Rights and Freedom) challenge. It is the writer’s opinion that it is the individual’s past behaviour/conduct that is in question, not their criminal record. Information in a CPIC or vulnerable sector screening check detailing any history of sexual offences, property offences, violent crime, drug use, trafficking of drugs would lead the issuer of licences to question the past conduct of an individual and the licence may be denied or further information may be requested.”
Purdy further recommended that the bylaw remain as is with the addition of grounds for refusal pertaining to the applicant’s past conduct.
Town CAO Rob Mens agreed with Purdy’s report and recommendation.
“If council decides that it should have a role in protecting the public, in regard to the taxi service, it must determine the extent of that service and the degree of protection for the public, the town, and its staff,” said Mens. “What essentially is put forward in this R&R is the highest degree of protection, at least within the town’s means. It then becomes important not only to protect the public, but also the town and its staff, particularly the issuer of licences from liability exposure should there be an incident….to remove the word ‘may’ (from the bylaw) increases risk to the town and staff and is not supported.”
One of the Parry Sound Taxi owners, Chris Kappes, with backing from other owners and drivers present, requested that the business have a chance to respond to the report before it was put before council for a vote.
“The collective owners and operators of Parry Sound Taxi would like to request that we have the opportunity to respond to a report and recommendations delivered by Tammy Purdy on September 4,” said Kappes.
“We were not delivered this report until late Wednesday, Aug. 29, with many of us not having the opportunity to read the report until Thursday. With it being a long weekend, we have not had adequate time to respond to the accusations and recommendations put forward by Ms Purdy. As well as complete a comprehensive plan to move forward.”
Council agreed to postpone the bylaw until its September 18 meeting after the company has met with Purdy.