Taxi industry responds to draft bylaw changes

Owner of Amey’s Taxi Mark Greenwood claims KATC commission looking to “gut” Uber bylaw

A meeting of the Kingston Area Taxi Commission.

Last week, the Kingston Area Taxi Commission (KATC) held its monthly regulatory meeting to review a draft bylaw which seeks to regulate Uber in Kingston. The bylaw has been in the works for nearly three years.

The commission has faced pressure from both sides throughout the process. While Uber is focused on regulatory proposals, Kingston’s taxi industry has claimed that the bylaw needs to “level the playing field,” between rideshare companies and local taxi operators.

As the bylaw reaches the final stages of review from the commission before entering the reading process, Kingston’s taxi industry has claimed certain members of the commission are seeking to water down regulations that have been in the draft bylaw for months. 

In a letter addressed to the commission, Mark Greenwood, owner of Amey’s Taxi wrote, “the local taxi industry, drivers and commission, have been working towards a set of bylaws to somewhat create a levelled playing field over the last three years, between taxis and app taxis.” 

“Many in the industry wanted to take a more radical approach but some of us convinced them that dialogue and working with the commission was the best course of action,” he continued.

“An individual on this commission has expressed that the taxi community has gotten their way on these bylaws which is totally untrue,” he wrote. “There appears to be some that want to gut the bylaw at the end of it, making the last three years of discussion and compromise an almost unbearable waste of time for both the commission and ourselves.”

KATC Commissioner Craig Draeger told in an email to The Journal that his position “has always been that the bylaw should match the best practices of other jurisdictions.” 

“While I’m still committed to building a bylaw that’s enforceable and efficient, it would be better to have no regulation than a regulatory structure that fails both the drivers and riders of Kingston,” Draeger wrote.

Had the KATC adopted the same regulatory structure used in other municipalities across the province, Draeger explained the commission could have spent the last several years collecting regulatory fees from commercial ridesharing companies. Since this wasn’t the case, he wrote that the commission chose “to draft a unique and singular structure at enormous expense and lost opportunity.”

In his letter addressed to the commission, Greenwood argued “if this commission decided to emulate Ottawa, who is presently being sued by the taxi organization, then three years ago we would have taken a different course and not wasted astronomical amounts of energy into this process.”

Greenwood also pointed to several Uber scandals which have surfaced in the past. He urged commissioners to examine these scandals for themselves. “This is not propaganda or fake news, as many articles are from well-respected news organizations,” he wrote.

In a follow up email to The Journal, Draeger reiterated his position on the commission. “The Kingston Area Taxi Commission exists as a public trust, not to defend the interests of any business owner or representative,” he said. “It must not take orders from anyone with a financial interest in the outcome of this regulation, on either side.” 

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