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This article was published 10/11/2017 (223 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Several local taxi industry representatives said their hour-long meeting with Mayor Brian Bowman Friday morning was positive and they’re looking forward to working with the administration on developing new regulations for the industry.
Jas Pal, a vice-president with Duffy’s, and about a half-dozen other representatives from Duffy’s and Unicity met with Bowman and other senior city officials on their concerns on how city hall will regulate the taxi industry.
"We know they have a lot of work to do and we can work together to make this better for the public, for ourselves and everybody else," Pal said as he and the other taxi industry reps left the city administration building.
The meeting was called after the taxi industry staged a rally at the legislature to protest the provincial government’s passage of Bill 30, which allows ride-hailing services such as Uber to operate in the province, disbands the Manitoba Taxicab Board and gives city hall the power to regulate the industry in Winnipeg.
Representatives from Duffy’s and Unicity, Winnipeg’s two dominant taxi co-operatives, said they were disappointed with the Pallister government’s failure to meet with them and to address their concerns over safety and desire for a level playing field with the ride-hailing services.
More than 350 cabs circled the Manitoba Legislative Building three times before moving onto Broadway, north along Smith Street and on to city hall, which they circled before disbanding.
Premier Brian Pallister told reporters he has had conversations with taxi drivers and owners about the changes to the industry but defended his decision to not hold formal talks with industry representatives. He said any regulatory changes will now be the responsibility of municipal governments and that's who the industry should be meeting.
A provincial government spokesman added that while Pallister has not met with the taxi industry association, former Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke did have formal discussions with representatives prior to August.
Pal said the taxi industry wants assurances that the same safety standards — including driver-seat shields, panic buttons, driver training, criminal background checks — that are applied to cabs are also imposed on ride-hailing services.
Pal said he and the others left their meeting with Bowman with the feeling their concerns will be addressed as city hall develops the regulations to govern taxis and ride-hailing services. But no further meetings were scheduled.
Bowman was not available for questions, but his office released the following statement:
"The mayor is encouraged by the meeting with industry and feels it was a positive dialogue. The meeting today was primarily to listen to suggestions and concerns from the industry.
"The feedback that was received will be considered as part of the preparations for the administrative report that will be forthcoming from the public service. The mayor thanks the industry for their positive contributions to this discussion."
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.
Updated on Friday, November 10, 2017 at 2:50 PM CST: Writethrough