KATC debates public consultation, bylaw implementation timeline at monthly meeting

Taxi commission will hold extra meetings to pass draft bylaw curtailing Uber by the end of the year

KATC Commissioners meet at City Hall for monthly meeting.

The Kingston Area Taxi Commission (KATC) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday at City Hall to continue the ongoing conversations about drafting bylaws that attempt to regulate Uber in Kingston.

At the KATC meeting last month, the commission fielded statements from taxi industry members, notably Mark Greenwood, owner of Amey’s Taxi and Chris Schafer, Uber Canada’s Public Policy Manager.

Though last month’s meeting saw intense debate, there was no motion put forward on the bylaws and the commission resolved to have their lawyer continue reviewing them before moving forward with the reading process.

Members of the industry and commission itself however, claim the process has already taken too long. Despite impatience, Commissioner John Pyke said the commission won’t receive the fleshed-out draft bylaw from council for potentially another two weeks. 

Commissioner Re-appointments

Commissioners in the KATC are appointed on a yearly basis and must seek nomination annually from the Kingston City Council. Already, two members of the commission have expressed they won’t seek re-nomination for 2018. 

At the meeting, Mark Greenwood said he would like to see the present committee “handle this issue, rather than passing it along to the next [KATC] commission,” in 2018.

“We don’t want to start, after three years, back at the beginning and explain everything. The people sitting at this table are well aware and have been here for the last three years,” Greenwood said.

In response, commissioners discussed increasing the amount of meetings in November and December to expedite the passing of bylaws before new commissioners are appointed.

Public consultations

At Wednesday’s meeting, Chris Schafer addressed the body and asked if commissioners would consider holding public consultations once the draft bylaw is finalized and before it’s passed.

“My experience is that when a city council is dealing with bylaws, they give the opportunity to the public to come down and be delegate, do a deputation for three or five minutes, after publically receiving a draft of the bylaw,” Schafer said.

Schafer said public consultations of that nature are “standard practice” concerning major bylaw changes like the proposed KATC bylaw. 

However, Commissioner Karen Weisbaum pointed out that KATC’s monthly meetings “are already open to the public.” 

Schafer argued that while KATC meetings are public, the draft bylaw isn’t posted publically, nor does the commission post minutes or agendas publically. Schafer said “if [the public] doesn’t attend they wouldn’t know.”

KATC Commissioner and AMS Director of Marketing and Communications Craig Dreager also echoed the call for consultations. “There is a lot to be said for having meaningful public engagement on [the draft bylaw].” 

“Yes, this meeting is public, yes, there is discussion of it in the media. The problem is [the draft bylaw] has never actually been shown to the public. I think that when this draft is completed and we are satisfied that it can be considered for first reading by this commission, the only way that the public can make a meaningful contribution is to actually read it,” Draeger said.

Commissioner Karen Weisbaum suggested the commission do a retroactive survey of the public once the bylaws are implemented. Six months down the line, the KATC would do a survey asking “how is this impacting you, what are its affects, what does it feel like to have these in place, as a taxi rider, and as an Uber rider.”

“Then to the extent that we have it within out mandate and our power to make adjustments after that, I think that makes sense,” remarked Weisbaum.

In response, Draeger said that “until you can actually read and consider this legislation, you can’t really express an informed opinion about it.” 

Commissioners agreed shortly after receiving the revised bylaw from their legal council, it would be posted for the public to see before it is passed. However, the commission maintained it would still work to pass the bylaws before the end of the year.

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