Anger and frustration was front and centre at city hall on Thursday due to a council decision to delay a bylaw that would see taxi and vehicle-for-hire drivers fined for harassing or assaulting passengers.
“Women want to see this move forward, they want to see it move forward and it’s not moving forward or political reasons that do not support women,” said Coun. Sherri Rollins. “It is absolutely absurd.”
Under proposed changes to the city’s vehicle-for-hire bylaw, drivers could face a $250 dollar fine for inappropriate behaviour under a new code of conduct.
That includes sexual harassment, threatening customers, asking for tips, or not letting passengers exit the vehicle upon request.
In an 8-6 decision, council passed a motion to refer the bylaw back to city committee for “further refinement and clarity”.
At issue, according to Coun. Marcus Chambers, is the presumption of innocence before a complete investigation involving all parties has been completed.
“The taxi drivers feel that in its current iteration it’s (the bylaw) more focused on the presumption of guilt than of innocence,” said Chambers.
“The concerns for the industry were such that the process for issuing a ticket is perhaps a little too easy and it’s not codified well enough what the process is for challenging some of those charges,” said Coun. Jeff Browaty, acting chair of the infrastructure and public works committee.
As an example, Browaty used fining a driver for being on their phone, when there could be a legitimate reason for doing so, but it is not clear in the ticketing process.
“Nobody around this council chamber supports any type of abuse or assault of any passenger, whether that’s in a taxi cab or a private vehicle-for-hire, it’s simply not on,“ said Browaty.
The bylaw will be discussed at next month’s infrastructure and public works committee meeting.
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