Safety was a big buzzword as delegates addressed the vehicle for hire bylaw at the City’s Executive Policy Committee (EPC) meeting Wednesday.
Nearly 20 delegates spoke on the matter of ride-sharing, including representatives from Lyft, Uber and Winnipeg taxi drivers.
Scott McFadyen of the taxi coalition argued against terms laid out in the bylaw. He said introducing Uber and Lyft could destroy the lives of Winnipeg taxi drivers.
“These bylaws are half cooked. What happens when you eat half cooked chicken? You get sick. So let’s not make that mistake,” McFadyen said.
Alexander Ashton shared research conducted for the coalition showing that taxis are safer than ride sharing services.
The City has proposed adding 120 taxi licenses when the changes come into effect, and set out guidelines for safety, fares and licensing for both taxis and personal transportation providers.
Taxi drivers said the level of consultation leading up to the proposed bylaw’s release was inadequate.
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Mayor Brian Bowman said he understands the taxi industry’s frustration about the tight timeline of the proposed changes, but it’s not up to him.
The province is requiring municipalities to have new rules in place that would come into effect February 28th, 2018, as it transfers the responsibility for vehicle for hire regulation.
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City councillor Russ Wyatt made it clear early in the meeting that he does not support ride sharing services coming to Winnipeg.
Wyatt was the first delegate to speak Wednesday morning. He said he’s concerned for the safety of ride sharing drivers, and would rather spend his money on local businesses.
Others suggested Winnipeg’s history of violence against cabbies has led to better standards in cabs, including safety shields and video footage. They wondered how Uber would fare without such infrastructure.