A bylaw amendment to allow two new cab companies in Thompson and to convert an unused limousine operator licence into a dedicated taxi licence for a vehicle that can accommodate people with disabilities passed second and third reading at council’s July 13 meeting.
The new companies are the Orange Taxi and Thompson Yellow Cabs.
The move to create a dedicated licence for an accessible taxi was brought about when two cabs that were formerly designed to accommodate people with physical disabilities were converted back into regular taxis. The licences assigned to those taxi operators did not specify that they had to provide accessible vehicles. A memo from the licence inspector to the mayor and council said those operators indicated they received a maximum of two to three calls for transportation from people with disabilities per day.
Both readings of the bylaw amendment passed unanimously, though several councillors said they didn’t agree with all the changes or that simply requiring one accessible taxi was enough.
“it’s not every single line that I agree on but we need to get this passed today to get people back on their feet to earn a living so I will support this bylaw and move on,” said Coun. Duncan Wong. “Moving forward we need to do some restructuring.”
Deputy mayor Les Ellsworth and Coun. Andre Proulx said they felt more accessible licences would be required in the future.
“I strongly strongly believe we need a minimum of two designated handi-cab licences,” said Proulx. “The fact that we had them and now lost them, I’m confused. I think we really need to do some more amendments to it later.”
“We’re going to need to do some work but in the interest of getting this passed I’ll agree reluctantly mostly on the fact of not being enough to deal with the physical disabilities,” said Ellsworth.
Coun. Jeff Fountain said it was sad that taxi companies are not bound by the same sort of accessibility legislation as other types of business.
“Almost every single business in this community and all our public infrastructure as well requires those organizations to undergo accessibility requirements," he said. "I hope that we’ll have that discussion in the future within our committees and I certainly will be supporting ensuring that there’s an even requirement across the board for taxi companies to provide accessible services.”