No cap set on licences for taxi companies
Canmore council has decided to maintain the taxi bylaw in its current form and not put a cap on the number of future cab businesses it issues licences to.
A motion by Mayor John Borrowman to maintain the status quo passed unanimously among council at its meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 18) following a request from the Canmore Association of Taxi Cab Owners (CATCO) to limit the number of future cab companies the town grants licences to.
In its letter request to council in April, CATCO, which is comprised of six cab companies operating within Canmore, stated that it’s difficult to plan, operate and hire new staff when there is no restriction to limit the number of cab companies allowed to operate.
As per council’s request, administration met with members of CATCO and conducted research into the matter by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of open and closed markets in similar communities.
The Town’s taxi bylaw currently provides safety standards for passengers, taxi cab operators, owners and vehicles, but does not regulate fares, types and numbers of vehicles, hours of operation or business models to respect the open market in this private industry.
According to the agenda provided to council at the meeting, administration believes supply and demand will dictate the needs of the taxi industry.
Research showed several instances of a cap put on the number of taxi cab business licenses being repealed due to the operation of unlicensed cabs and the sale of surplus licenses at a high value.
In Brooks, for example, a long-standing cap was repealed because of a monopoly that resulted in a poor standard of service.
“Capping the number of businesses in any industry is counterproductive,” said Borrowman, adding he felt council should not interfere politically with free enterprise.
Councillor Sean Krausert was also supportive of not installing a cap because of the increased amount of regulations and standards that would follow, as well as the possibility of other businesses wishing to install a cap.
Following the mayor’s original motion, Coun. Gordie Miskow proposed an amending motion to establish a taxi advisory committee to develop better communication between council and CATCO.
“I don’t think we really understand the cab business as well as we pretend to,” Miskow explained. “There’s some frustration with the operation of cabs in Canmore. They’re trying to run a great business and we need to open up communication… start recognizing the importance of taxi businesses.”
Responding to Miskow’s amendment, Coun. Hans Helder stated he didn’t see a role for a taxi committee since CATCO was originally asking council to limit the number of future business licences for cab companies.
“It just seems to add a layer of process to no advantage,” he said.
Coun. Joanna McCallum was also not in favour of the motion because council had not received any request from all six of the cab companies nor the public to form this committee.
Though she wasn’t supportive of the motion, Coun. Vi Sandford said she was encouraged to see all the taxi cab companies communicating with each other and hopes they continue to do so as an association to maintain the level of service in the town.
Miskow was the only member to vote in favour of his motion, which was defeated.
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