Edmonton Taxi Service Group includes Yellow, Barrel, Prestige and Checker taxis.
Rick MacWilliam / Edmonton Journal
A report going before the community and public services committee next week recommends changes to a bylaw surrounding criminal record rules for taxi drivers by tweaking language for clarity and preventing appeals to refusals of driver applications.The report comes after council members disagreed on how the vehicle-for-hire bylaw should be interpreted and what counts as a related offence as some taxi drivers were getting licences despite having criminal convictions including domestic assault and impaired driving.Tribunals composed of three city councillors who sit on the community standards and licence appeal committee granted the taxi licences for drivers who appealed rejections by city officials due to a criminal offence in the last 10 years.Coun. Scott McKeen, who has been part of the tribunals and a dissenting voice towards allowing drivers with convictions to receive a licence, said he was frustrated that was happening and so were others on council.“My feeling was the integrity of the system trumped everything else, that we needed Edmontonians, some of them vulnerable, to be confident when they were getting into that cab, that they were safe,” McKeen said. “I also thought that the industry would want the committee to uphold the regulations for the same reason.”McKeen said there were others on the licence appeal committee who felt — and McKeen believes is an arguable position — that if the drivers had been driving up until a certain period and when it came time to renew their licence they couldn’t, it was unfair.In October, Coun. Moe Banga made a motion asking for clarification from administration around the criminal record rules for taxi drivers.The report proposes a bylaw amendment with revised wording in order to more clearly state that individuals convicted of the listed offences are ineligible to operate a vehicle for hire for 10 years.The new proposed wording specifies offences of any violent nature including assault and firearms or weapons offences; any offence involving sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual interference, procuring or invitation to sexual touching.It also includes trafficking and any offence involving fraud or fraudulent transactions, conspiracy to defraud, the use of false pretences, extortion, or theft; or any offence related to the unlawful operation of a motor vehicle.“I think it’s important that we tighten up language and what I think is really important is council confirms what it wants the regulation to accomplish,” said McKeen. Another proposed amendment indicates that individuals who have been convicted of the listed offences will not be able to appeal a refusal of their driver’s licence application to the community standards and licence appeal committee. The 10-year restriction would still be in place.“I think taking the committee out of some of these clear-cut cases makes sense to me. Whether it will to the majority on council, I don’t know,” McKeen firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter.com/JunkerAnna