Al DesLaurier expresses his frustration to reporters following council's decision to eliminate taxi zones (Photo: Erin Meagher).

Council angers local taxi drivers

Halifax city council votes to eliminate taxi zones for duration of bus strike

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HRM's councillors voted in favour of a motion allowing taxi drivers from outlying areas to work in Halifax until the bus strike is resolved.

This could hinder people in rural communities from accessing transportation services when they need it most, according to Eastern Passage Councillor Jackie Barkhouse.

Eliminating taxi zones is an amendment to bylaw T-108 that has been used previously for the 2011 Canada Winter Games.

The motion was proposed by Councillor David Hendsbee, representing the Preston - Lawrencetown - Chezzetcook district.

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Al DesLaurier, president of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association, talks to the press about potential outcomes of council vote to change zoning rules (Video: Adam Scotti).

Hendsbee said council should be proactive on the issue, "rather than waiting for paralysis by analysis."

Councillor Debbie Hum, representing Rockingham - Wentworth in District 16 was one of six councillors that spoke against the motion.

She said, "I have not received any phone calls or emails about a lack of taxis. I think our emphasis should be on settling the strike as soon as possible."

Councillor Barkhouse agreed, saying increasing the number of taxi drivers in Halifax "is only a band-aid solution." She urged council to focus on resolving the bus strike.

Al DesLaurier, president of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association said council is "using taxi drivers as pawns in the bus strike."

He's been outspoken in his opposition to eliminating the taxi zones. He says opening the zones will increase competition for passengers in Halifax as well as reduce the number of taxis available in outlying areas.

He said "right now the city of Halifax is being taken care of by the taxi drivers in Halifax."

Council voted 12-9 in favour of temporarily eliminating taxi zones.

DesLaurier was upset with council's decision, "they've got the Halifax city zone taxi drivers angry. We're covering everything. There are no complaints."

He worries that this amendment sets a precedent that will not only hurt taxi drivers now but also in the future.

He says that if the city continues to make exceptions to the zone by-law, outlying areas will suffer. "They're going in a direction of an open entry system, that will destroy the taxi industry." 

 

 

 

Updates

Updated at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday with quotes from Al DesLaurier

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