City contracts out cabbie consultations

Whitehorse is spending $15,000 to hire consultants to gather comments on its draft taxi bylaw. The bylaw infuriated cabbies when it was introduced in February.

Whitehorse is spending $15,000 to hire consultants to gather comments on its draft taxi bylaw.

The bylaw infuriated cabbies when it was introduced in February.

It would ban cellphone use by taxi drivers, increase vehicle liability insurance to $3 million and bar drivers from transporting family members in their cars.

The idea to hire a third-party consultant came from councillors, said city manager Dennis Shewfelt at a news conference on Friday. But it’s a long-standing demand of drivers.

The taxi industry should have been properly consulted with before drafting the bylaw, say many drivers who addressed council about the proposed regulations.

A consultation was held in early 2009, but not all taxi companies in the city were there and only taxi operators, not drivers, were present.

The city didn’t need to do consultations beforehand, said Shewfelt.

“It’s standard practice to prepare a draft then use it as a talking and discussion point,” he said.

The city has hired Outside the Cube Marketing to do the job.

The company will consult with taxi drivers and owners, the tourist industry, the business community, youth groups and women’s groups, said owner Dee Enright.

Outside the Cube will also put together a Datapath survey to get a pulse on what people think of the proposed bylaw, she said.

Consultations will begin in May. A report to council should be ready by late June.

Outside the Cube will also host a public meeting.

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