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This article was published 20/6/2011 (3306 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A cavalcade of limousines will converge on the provincial legislature, but don't look for the province to roll out the red carpet for this rally.
Instead, the luxe lineup will pull up in front of the legislative building at 9 a.m. today to protest a recent crackdown that saw limos ticketed for infractions such as having darkly tinted windows and neon interior lights, citing safety concerns and provincial regulations.
But those restrictions, some owners said, are an awfully big stretch when it comes to their routinely inspected vehicles. "We love safety. We want to protect ourselves and our passengers," said Winnipeg Limousine Service owner Shawn Gliddon. "But when they now issue a $170 fine because you have tint on the back windows? It's a limousine. It's supposed to have tint."
A representative from the Taxicab Board could not be reached on Monday night. In Manitoba, the Highway Traffic Act restricts tinting on windshields and vehicle windows by varying amounts.
Gliddon's vehicles escaped ticketing over the weekend, when Winnipeg police and the province teamed up to inspect commercial passenger vehicles.
But fellow limo company owner Ricky Brar wasn't so lucky. Four of his vehicles with Hollywood Limousine Service were ticketed on Saturday: one, a $150,000 custom-built stretch Hummer -- the one that carried Arnold Schwarzenegger around town in January -- was pulled off the road for alleged steering problems. The same vehicle had passed a safety inspection only two months ago, Brar said.
Another of Brar's stretch limos was fined for lacking a front passenger seatbelt -- even though the vehicle was made without a front passenger seat. Other tickets focused on tinted windows and neon interior lights.
Brar said he was shocked when the tickets came in: all of the vehicles in his fleet are inspected several times a year, with proof of their safety check filed to the Manitoba Taxicab Board, he said. Nobody had mentioned concerns with window tint or interior lights before.
"All limos that are tinted, only come with windows tinted," Brar said. "There's not an option to get them any other way. Now they are telling us we have to get the window tints taken off. Where did this rule come from? We were given no warning, no heads up, no nothing."
Brar and Gliddon, along with other limo industry colleagues, hope to speak with Transportation Minister Steve Ashton about the inspections this week -- before business goes gaga during grad season.
"It's a chauffeured, professionally-driven vehicle," Gliddon said, emphasizing that the vehicles are already inspected multiple times a year. "There's no safety concerns with that tint. Let's use common sense and see where we go forward."
And of course, there's another pressing concern: if the tint crackdown keeps up, are Winnipeg hockey diehards ready to glance at a limo, and see Gary Bettman's face looking back? "I'm going to get NHL teams in town for the first time in 15 years, and I'm going to take my customers to the venue in a limo with untinted windows?" Brar said. "It's ridiculous."
Melissa Martin reports and opines for the Winnipeg Free Press.
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