Bracebridge is looking to help residents with disabilities overcome transportation challenges by bringing an accessible taxi to town.
Councillors discussed the idea of creating a new licence for an accessible taxi during a general committee meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The idea first came to light in August, when local taxi operator Century Taxi left the industry and gave up three of its taxi licences back to the town.
“In accordance with approved town policy and past practice … a public lottery was held to award the three taxi-cab licences,” chief bylaw officer Scott Stakiw said in a report. “One of the individuals awarded the opportunity to obtain a licence has expressed some preliminary interest in purchasing a fully accessible van and using it to operate an on-demand accessible taxicab in Bracebridge.”
Bracebridge CAO John Sisson said the town has a total of 16 taxi licences, and that the three surrendered licences have since been awarded to ordinary cabs. Council would need to create a new licence for an accessible taxi service.
Stakiw said that to date, no other cab operators in town have approached the town with the idea of running an accessible taxi, and none have asked for assistance in starting such an operation. He also said the town has no authority to force local taxi operators to offer an on-demand, accessible cab service.
“Therefore the introduction of an on-demand accessible taxi cab in Bracebridge will have to be entirely voluntary on the part of the owner/operator, with the possibility of future incentives/grants being offered by the town (if necessary) in order to make such a business attractive and viable for the owner,” said Stakiw.
Sisson said that though staff has determined that one accessible cab is the minimum number needed by the town right now, more could be added later.
“We can certainly bring forward a recommendation for more in the future,” he said.
Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, accessible cabs cannot charge higher fares than other cabs for their service.
Council has directed the town’s bylaw, administration and finance staff to review best practices and methods to encourage the introduction of an accessible taxi service in town. Staff will report back to councillors at a future date with their findings.