A Halifax woman has officially presented her platform on why she feels the Halifax Regional Municipality needs a new taxi license category for female drivers.
“I’m the voice of the people and I’m here to give them what they need. They need an option to have a car service they feel safe in,” Crissy Mcdow told councillors and members of the Transportation Standing Committee on Thursday.
According to the city, seven male taxi drivers had their licenses suspended or revoked between 2015-2017 due to sexual misconduct allegations.
Mcdow says that’s one of the main reasons her phone has seen an increase in calls.
She owns and operates Lady Drive Her Car Service. The business has a network of 12 female drivers who are licensed to service the airport, but she says the volume of calls she receives continues to increase with people wanting her to operate within the city.
But Mcdow says operating legally within the municipality isn’t that simple.
“There’s a huge waiting list, and that’s what I’m here for,” she said. “I’m trying to create change and have the city change their bylaw and create a new category for us.”
The waiting list Mcdow speaks of are for owner-operator licenses, or “roof lights.” The city currently has a roof-light cap of 1,000, and there are 878 people registered on the waiting list to access them.
Dave Buffet, president of the Halifax Regional Municipality Taxi Association, feels having a cap on roof lights is an important part of industry safety.
“If there’s an unlimited number of taxis, the quality of the car goes down right away, and the driver tends to work more than 12, 14 hours a day. Twelve is the most you should do safely,” Buffet said.
Buffet claims it’s not uncommon for “rookie drivers” to rent roof lights from other owners while they wait for possession of their own.
“Anybody can get in the business and rent a roof light, which is typical for a number of years. I did for eight years, some do it for nine or 10,” he said. “It just depends.”
The Transportation Standing Committee approved a motion to have city staff create a report that will consider Mcdow’s proposal of creating a new category for female taxi drivers.
Buffet says he’s “100 per cent opposed” to a female-only category being created.
“Where do you draw the line, and why make an exception for women? Let’s make an exception for vertically challenged people and let’s make an exception for older people,” Buffet said.
Mcdow, on the other hand, is adamant public safety concerns are the driving force behind her efforts.
“A lot of good support from the community, they want me just to continue and I told them I’m going to keep going. If I have any more barriers, I’m just going to continue on,” Mcdow said.