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Mandatory taxicab conversion deadline won’t be resurrected

 Mandatory taxicab conversion deadline won’t be resurrected

Toronto Sun April 02, 2015 Don Peat,

TORONTO – Councillors nixed a move by Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong to try to salvage a mandatory conversion deadline for taxicab licences.

In a council chamber filled with people from the taxi industry, council voted 24 to 17 to defeat Minnan-Wong’s push for public consultation on a mandatory conversion deadline to the new Toronto Taxicab Licences (TTL).

Council then voted not to appeal the court decision that upheld all of the taxicab changes that council approved last year except the provision demanding existing owners have to convert their licences by 2024.

As people from the taxi industry left the council chamber after the vote, many went up and hugged Councillor Rob Ford, who voted against Minnan-Wong’s motion.

The Toronto Taxi Alliance took the city to court over taxi licence changes approved by council last term. Earlier this year, the court struck down the 2024 deadline for licences to be converted to the TTL because the city didn’t consult plate holders enough about the deadline before it was imposed.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti claimed victory after the vote.

“This is a big defeat, in my opinion, for the deputy mayor in trying to create a fight when one didn’t exist and trying to separate the taxi industry yet again,” Mammoliti said.

“I don’t trust the deputy mayor and neither does the industry.”

Minnan-Wong said he was trying to bundle all the taxi issues together so council could “deal with this in an intelligent, organized way.”

“The consequence of this is over this next year of council meetings, I’m going to predict that it is going to be all taxi issues all the time,” Minnan-Wong said.

“We’re going to be spending a disproportionate amount of time dealing with the licensing committee who wants to go back into the dark ages of taxis.”

The licensing committee is in the midst of re-examining the reforms ushered in last year.

Last month, the committee asked staff to report back on April 21 what bylaw amendments need to be put in place to reinstate the standard taxi regulations and to reinstate Ambassador taxi licences. The committee also wants to know whether it is feasible to immediately grandfather any standard plates that existed before the city’s 1998 taxi reforms.

Council will also have to deal with the issue of Uber at some point this year — the city is currently in a court battle with the app that connects paying riders with drivers.

The mandatory transfer period makes sense because the new licence requires the taxi to be an accessible vehicle, Minnan-Wong argued.

“What this means now is those reforms won’t happen quick enough,” he said. “Having a fully-accessible fleet has just been delayed.”

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker stressed Thursday’s vote helps those who have invested their time and money in the taxi industry.

“We’re going to do this fairly and democratically, we’re not running around like idiots,” De Baeremaeker said.

Councillor Jim Karygiannis accused Minnan-Wong of showing “total disrespect” to the licensing committee.