BARRHEAD - In the future, people wanting to start or operate a taxi service or similar business in the Town of Barrhead will have to conform to a bylaw.
Councillors instructed administration during their Jan. 23 meeting to draft a taxi bylaw.
Mayor Dave McKenzie first brought up the potential of enacting a taxi bylaw at their Nov. 29 meeting, saying it had "become apparent that some illegitimate taxi service providers are operating in our community" and as a result, "they were putting residents in danger by operating vehicles that are not adequately insured, or are not being driven by a properly licensed driver, among other issues".
McKenzie noted regulating taxi services is a municipal responsibility.
Councillors then instructed the administration to look into how other communities regulated taxi, ride-sharing or similar businesses.
Chief Administrative Officer Edward LeBlanc said they purposefully looked for how communities of similar populations dealt with regulating taxi services.
"Because it is easy for cities like Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer to have a taxi bylaw," he said.
After research, LeBlanc said they found several similarly sized communities with a taxi bylaw, including Bonnyville, Canmore, Lacombe, Slave Lake, Strathmore, Hinton, and, closer to home, Westlock, adding as such, administration recommends that Barrhead draft its own bylaw.
Coun. Rod Klumph said after looking at the bylaws from those communities, he agreed that the municipality should have a similar bylaw.
At the Nov. 29 council meeting, Klumph said although he wasn't opposed to such a bylaw, he needed to find out if it was required, noting the municipality already had a mechanism to control would-be taxi operators, referring specifically to the town's business license process.
However, after reading the other municipalities' bylaws, he realized the municipality needs additional mechanisms to regulate taxi services.
"There is a lot to it. Everything from keeping their vehicles in good repair to driver qualifications, and I see a bylaw would be the best way to approach it," he said.
Klumph added that they also needed to ensure that any bylaw they enacted included a dispute mechanism for operators, noting that not all of the sample bylaws administration contained in the agenda package, including the Town of Westlock's version, had one.
"Because, you know, people are fallible, and mistakes happen, and [taxi operators] should be able to voice some kind of objection", he said.
LeBlanc agreed, saying the majority, if not all, of the town's bylaws, included a complaint or dispute mechanism.
Coun. Dausen Kluin agreed, moving to instruct administration to draft a taxi bylaw.