Council voted in favour of sweeping changes Tuesday, approving staff recommendations stemming from the Vehicle for Hire Licensing Program Review, a report by Ottawa-based consultant Hara Associates.

Sally Christie

During the discussion Sally Christie and the councillors kept referring to the survey in which Christie claimed “The largest response to a survey we ever received.”   What no one failed to note or mention is that 13000 people responding only represents approximately 3% of the Halifax population.  Christie kept using figures like “88% respondents want…” completely ignoring the fact that 70%, 88% of only 3% of the population is not a significant number and cannot possible represent public opinion – it’s still less than 3%.  
Furthermore, Uber mass emailed all those who opened their app to encourage people in Halifax to respond to this online survey. So this small 3% that the radio and councillors keeps claiming represents 70% of Halifax is really only a BIASED 3% of the population.

Councillor Steve Adams remarks on the survey were “It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.”

This biased survey only represents 3% of Halifax’s population.

A municipal staff report had suggested an increase of 600 taxis for HRM, upping the number from 1,000 to 1,600. Coun. Steve Adams (Spryfield-Sambro-Prospect Road) moved an amendment that the number be increased only to 1,050 and Coun. Russell Walker (Halifax-Bedford Basin West) saw Adams’ 50 additional taxis and raised him by 250 to an increase of 300 cabs to a 1,300 total.

Walker said his amendment also proposed to assess the effectiveness of that additional number after one year, at which time the number could be adjusted.

“It opens the door,” Walker said. “Right now we don’t know what the right number is.”

Sally Christie, supervisor of regional licensing, said assessing the changes after one year would be premature.

“Once we get direction from council, it will take us some time … more than a year,” Christie said of making the staff-suggested changes to the bylaw that covers vehicles for hire in HRM.

The Hara report clearly shows that the number of taxis in Halifax already out numbers all other cities in Canada:

Hara also did a report for Ottawa and this was their results:

Increasing the number of Taxis licenses by 60% in Halifax will put Halifax at 40 taxis per 10000 population.

Halifax Council has done a disservice to the taxi industry and as one of the councillors said during the debate “We add too many and we are going to blow up the industry”. That statement obviously fell on deaf ears and was not considered.

“I think there is a fair bit of non-clarity here,” Mayor Mike Savage said during debate about a potential bylaw to change the rules that govern taxis in Halifax Regional Municipality.

Mayor Mike Savage

It seemed that council had tunnel vision dictated by Sally Christie and the Hara report, as though there was no other alternative than to flood the market with more taxis.

Jerome MacDonald of Dartmouth was one of more than a dozen taxi drivers who listened to the debate in the gallery of council chambers.

“I think that’s ridiculous,” MacDonald, who has been driving taxi for 41 years, said of the increased number of taxis. “I wonder how they’d like to take a one-third cut in pay. That will be way too many taxis. In fact, in Dartmouth, there should be less.”

The staff report recommended not making it mandatory for taxi operators to have cameras in the cabs. Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini moved an unsuccessful amendment Tuesday that staff prepare another supplementary report about cameras in cars.

Sally Christie was asked “Are there any markets that Uber operate where cameras are mandatory” and her response was “No.”

It’s as though the safety of the driver and passenger is not important enough to mandate cameras with the excuse of storage. When the reality is if this amendment was made – It could prohibit Uber from operating.

Interestingly, Hara of Hara Associates are aware of this as this was an issue of contention in Ottawa where security cameras have been mandatory in Ottawa taxis since 2008. In fact they have been involved with supplying reports to municipal councils in several cities making the same recommendations over and over again.

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